The translation from memory to postmemory : the mother-daughter dialogue in post-Holocaust literature / by Sonja Julia Wandelt
Includes bibliographical references (p.215-241)
This dissertation investigates the transfer of memories and experiences of World War II and the Holocaust from the first to the second generation in texts from German, Swedish, French, and American literature. This study focuses on the dialogue between mothers and daughters as a site of this memory transmission. Drawing on criticism by Marianne Hirsch, Shoshana Felman, Dori Laub, and Cathy Caruth to examine the condition of post-Holocaust memory discourses, this work suggests the notion of “translation” as an effective way to conceptualize the transmission of memory between the generations and the subsequent transformation into postmemory. This research looks at autobiographical texts, novels, and film that stress the communicative and reparative dimensions in the intergenerational interactions and their impact on both personal and cultural identity formations. Full chapters of this dissertation are devoted to the non-fiction film and book Ninas Resa [Nina's Journey] by Swedish filmmaker Lena Einhorn, the French-language novel La Compagnie des Spectres [The Company of Ghosts] by Lydie Salvayre, Uwe Johnson's German-language work Jahrestage [Anniversaries], and the novel Kindheitsmuster [Patterns of Childhood ] by GDR author Christa Wolf.All of these texts evoke layers of translation in the communicative process between the generations. The daughters help their mothers unlock and vocalize the past, and in a second step often attempt to adopt and integrate their mother's stories into their own cultural-political framework of references and speech. Lena Einhorn's and Lydie Salvayre's texts, written from the victims' perspective, demonstrate the demands of “listening to trauma” and the daughters' need to position themselves as mediators and literally translators between their mother's story and the outside world. The moment of translation in Johnson's and Wolf's texts, presented from the perspective of German perpetration, is simultaneously a process of close association with and separation from the parents' shameful past. An analysis of the dialogic encounter between mothers and daughters in all of the texts shows that postmemory emerges as a translation of the mother's original memory.
Record last modified: 2018-05-18 16:20:00
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