Admitting the Holocaust: Collected Essays

Lawrence L. Langer, Author Oxford University Press, USA $25 (224p) ISBN 978-0-19-509357-5
The Holocaust cannot be recounted in terms of heroic dignity, moral courage or triumph of the human spirit; the Nazis' systematic murder of six million Jews, among millions of others, makes concepts such as resistance or moral growth largely inapplicable. This central theme pervades Langer's gripping, often profound essays, all of which have been published in scholarly journals in the last decade; the pieces scrutinize accounts of the Holocaust in survivors' and victims' testimonies, memoirs, fiction, films and plays. Langer, whose Holocaust Testimonies won a National Book Critics Circle award in 1991, praises Cynthia Ozick for her unflinching representation of the Nazi genocide, but he argues that Bernard Malamud's ``conventional moral vision'' insulated him to the enormity of Nazi evil. Langer also rips William Styron's portrayal, in Sophie's Choice, of Auschwitz commandor Rudolf Hoess, who, in Langer's reading, almost seems ``a man otherwise decent and polite'' when he wasn't killing Jews and Poles. He perceives a ``language of consolation'' in Steven Spielberg's film Schindler's List, and anlayzes strategies of mitigation or frank confrontation in Primo Levi, D.M. Thomas, Peter Weiss, Aharon Appelfeld, Tadeusz Borowski, Viktor Frankl and others. (Dec.)
Reviewed on: 01/02/1995
Release date: 01/01/1995
Genre: Nonfiction
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