Poétique de la perte dans l'oeuvre autobiographique d'Élie Wiesel / par Katherine Annette Lagrandeur.
This dissertation explores the poetics of loss in the autobiographical writing of Elie Wiesel, Holocaust survivor and Nobel Peace Prize laureate. Born in 1928, Wiesel spent his early childhood in the shtetl of Sighet, situated in the Carpathian mountains of Transylvania. In 1944, Wiesel was deported along with his family to the Nazi concentration camps where his father, his mother, his grandmother, and his youngest sister all died. After the war, Wiesel moved to France and then to New York City, where he worked as a journalist, a writer, and a professor. In this study, I examine how the losses Wiesel experienced during the Holocaust inform his autobiographical writing. More precisely, I seek to understand how the self accounts for loss in narrative. In the first chapter, I explore how Wiesel expresses Heimweh in his writing, or, in other words, how he articulates his loss of, and quest for, home. His longing for home centres around a photo of the house in which he lived as a child in Sighet. I am interested in how both the photo and his writing enable Wiesel to reconstruct his lost past. In the second chapter, I study how his experiences in the concentration camps affected Wiesel, and how they are inscribed in his narratives of self. The third chapter explores the question of the Covenant between God and the people of Israel, and, more specifically, the eclipse of God during the Holocaust. I examine how Wiesel tries to understand his relationship with God through an intersubjective reading of other Jewish stories of faith and rebellion. In the final chapter, I discuss the ways in which Wiesel expresses the trauma of his family's death in narrative, and how his autobiographical writing becomes a site that supports shivah, the seven-day mourning period during which the bereaved talk about and remember the deceased. Together, these chapters allow me to explore the impact that the Shoah has had on the life and writing of Wiesel as well as to situate his autobiographical project within the larger framework of Holocaust survival and testimony.
Record last modified: 2018-05-25 09:44:00
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