Holocaust Fiction

Holocaust Fiction

Holocaust Fiction

Holocaust Fiction

Synopsis

Examining the controversies that have accompanied the publication of novels representing the Holocaust, this compelling book explores such literature to analyze their violently mixed receptions and what this says about the ethics and practice of millennial Holocaust literature. The novels examined, including some for the first time, are: * Time's Arrow by Martin Amis * The White Hotel by D.M. Thomas * The Painted Bird by Jerzy Kosinski * Schindler's List by Thomas Keneally * Sophie's Choice by William Styron * The Hand that Signed the Paper by Helen Darville. Taking issue with the idea that the Holocaust should only be represented factually, this compelling book argues that Holocaust fiction is not only legitimate, but an important genre that it is essential to accept. In a growing area of interest, Sue Vice adds a new, intelligent and contentious voice to the key debates within Holocaust studies.

Excerpt

Holocaust fictions are scandalous: that is, they invariably provoke controversy by inspiring repulsion and acclaim in equal measure. To judge by what many critics have to say, to write Holocaust fictions is tantamount to making a fiction of the Holocaust.

In this book I focus on scandals concerning Holocaust novels, but this phenomenon is clear, too, in the case of other genres. To take a flagrant example first, Rolf Hochhuth's 1964 play, The Deputy, sparked a fierce debate about its premise, the deliberate indifference of the Catholic Church and Pope Pius XII to the fate of the Jews during the war. Peter Weiss's 1966 play, The Investigation, based on the Auschwitz War Crimes Trial held in Germany in 1963-65, was greeted with outrage as it contrived never to name the Jews who were ostensibly its subject. In 1979 the television series based on Gerald Green's novel Holocaust, which was shown in the United States and Europe, provoked intense debate about the nature and purpose of Holocaust representation-a debate which was repeated with regard to Steven Spielberg's 1993 film Schindler's List. In 1987 Jim Allen's Perdition was the first play to be banned by the Royal Court Theatre in Britain, on the grounds that it was historically inaccurate. In the mid-1990s Binjamin Wilkomirski's ostensibly autobiographical Fragments had its authenticity called into question. As these examples show, the only thing that each of these scandals has in common is the subject of the Holocaust. Apart from this shared feature, it is possible to isolate the particular theme which each debate focused on: polemic and historical accuracy in the case of Hochhuth and Allen; allegory in the case of Weiss; popular form in the case of Green and Spielberg; authenticity in the case of Wilkomirski. In other words, standard literary and cultural issues were at stake in each scandal.

Yet the common factor of the Holocaust as a subject is not easily dismissed. This is the central concern of this study: why and how fictional representations of the Holocaust are always greeted with such a mixture of acclaim and dismay. In the chapters that follow, I will trace the answers in the case of each novel-and those answers may not be the ones the dismayed critics think they are. I have limited myself to works written in English, with the consequence that all but one of the novels discussed here are by non-Jewish writers unconnected to the events

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.