Surviving the Holocaust : Jean Améry and Primo Levi / by Livia Pavelescu.
This study is predicated on the assumption that there is a culture of the Holocaust in Austria and Italy and that its strongest manifestation is the literature of the Holocaust. The purpose of this thesis is twofold. First it determines a representative spectrum of reaction to the Holocaust by using two texts Se questo è un uomo (Survival in Auschwitz) and Jenseits von Schuld and Sühne (At the Mind's Limits) of two prominent writers, Primo Levi and Jean Améry. Secondly, the text-based analysis that forms the core of the thesis is grounded and tied to the historical context of the Austrian and Italian Jewry that I present in the second chapter of the manuscript. The discussion that follows tracks two representative Jewish Holocaust survivors, one Italian and one Austrian. Primo Levi's Holocaust work is analyzed not so much for its ethical implication or moral importance but for the ways in which Levi was able to craft a significant rhetoric of the Holocaust. Jean Améry's work is treated not only for the position of the intellectual in Auschwitz but also for his problematic feelings of confusion, namely the necessity and impossibility of being a Jew. Though Levi and Améry are quite distinct in terms of literary abilities and purposes in writing, their trauma is presented as a survivor's memoir. The final segment of this thesis compares the texts by the two authors in detail, while a brief conclusion situates Améry and Levi within the broader context of Holocaust survival memoirs.
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