Writing as revenge : Jewish German identity in post-Holocaust German literary works : reading survivor authors Jurek Becker, Edgar Hilsenrath and Ruth Klüger / by Jennifer L. Taylor
Includes bibliographical references (p. 281-289)
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Electronic version from ProQuest
This dissertation examines the literary construction of post-Holocaust German Jewish identity as it is worked out in selected works by three German-speaking Jewish authors, Edgar Hilsenrath, Jurek Becker, and Ruth Kluger. All three writers under consideration survived years in Nazi concentration camps as children. The thesis is concerned with two sets of questions. The first is a general problem of aesthetics: should literary criticism of Holocaust literature, especially fiction written by Holocaust survivors, concern itself primarily with the historical accuracy of fictional accounts or with the formal and aesthetic elements of the text? Can novels such as Hilsenrath's Nacht and Becker's Jakob der Lugner, which represent the Shoah in a darkly comic and ironic style, nonetheless be called 'historically accurate'? Is there a need in the post-Shoah world to re-define the aesthetic terms we apply to such works? Ruth Kluger's weiter leben: eine Jugend, on the other hand, raises another set of aesthetic concerns, namely, to what degree a discussion of gender is appropriate to the analysis of and representation in Shoah literature. The text functions simultaneously as a memoir and as a re-evaluation of the role of gender in Holocaust fiction. The second primary question concerns the way in which these literary works serve as a forum in which a post-Shoah German-Jewish identity, both intellectual and physical, might be re-claimed or re-invented. Writing German in a German cultural context, the survivor authors are literally asserting their physical right to be German as well as claiming a right to the German cultural inheritance. These writers have to address numerous and contradictory historical German-Jewish identities in order to work out a post-Holocaust German Jewish identity. Works by Hilsenrath, Becker and Kluger are, to a large degree, a space for the survivor-author to exact a form of literary revenge for their own experience in German history.
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