Holocaust Testimonies: The Ruins of Memory

Lawrence L. Langer, Author Yale University Press $35 (216p) ISBN 978-0-300-04966-4
Hundreds of videotaped oral testimonies by Holocaust survivors are preserved in the Fortunoff Video Archives at Yale University. These tapes comprise a spontaneous record of victims' unimaginable ordeals, their disorientation, subsequent readjustment and the psychic scars they still carry. Intermingling their narratives with a structural analysis that draws on the writings of Primo Levi, Maurice Blanchot, Viktor Frankl, Martin Gilbert and others, Langer ( The Holocaust and the Literary Imagination ) explores how survivors created an ``impromptu self,'' following impulses in order to stay alive. He notes that for many, the Nazi assault on body and spirit resulted in a permanent sense of discontinuity with normal assumptions about good and evil, individual choice and responsibility. This brilliant, scholarly book stares into the void; it eschews tributes to heroism and martyrdom, focusing instead on the personal and societal wreckage caused by mass murder. Jewish Book Club selection. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 04/01/1991
Release date: 04/01/1991
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 216 pages - 978-0-300-05247-3
Open Ebook - 233 pages - 978-0-585-35999-1
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