Child survivors of the Holocaust : literature, trauma, memory / by Amalia Rechtman.
This dissertation explores the legacy of the Holocaust in contemporary culture, with particular emphasis on the experience of child survivors. I have taken an interdisciplinary approach to the subject of my dissertation, exploring the historical and psychological dimensions of the Holocaust experience, as well as its literary representations. I have focused on the relations between trauma and literature, notably on the complex ways in which the historically specific traumatic material has been expressed in the literature written by the survivors.The dissertation is divided into five chapters: Chapter One deals with the situation of Jewish children in Europe before and during the war. Chapter Two concentrates on the studies conducted on child survivors after the war: on those who had been in concentration camps, or hidden in Europe. Chapters Three, Four and Five analyze the war's testimony in the literature produced by child survivors. Chapter Three deals with the memoirs of the Holocaust experience in the works of Elie Wiesel, Ruth Kluger and Saul Friedlander. Chapter Four deals with works in which the child survivors' experience of the war has found more indirect expression through the semi-fictional or autobiographical works of Georges Perec and Serge Doubrovsky. Chapter Five considers the most fictionalized accounts of the Shoah through the works of Louis Begley, Jerzy Kosinski, Binjamin Wilkomirski, and W. G. Sebald.The Holocaust caused tremendous destruction to its survivors—to adults and especially to children—not only at the moment of catastrophe, but throughout their lives. For many survivors, their traumatic experiences require constant confrontation and struggle with its long-term effects, even fifty years later. The dissertation as a whole seeks to make connections between the historical and psychological components of the Holocaust experience (the first and second chapters) and the varied literary forms European writers have created in the long aftermath of the war (the third, fourth, and fifth chapters).
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