Anthology of Holocaust Literature

Anthology of Holocaust Literature

Anthology of Holocaust Literature

Anthology of Holocaust Literature

Excerpt

One hesitates to use the term anthology for this book. An anthology is a collection of flowers, a thing of joy and beauty; it is meant to comprise the very best in a literary or artistic or intellectual genre. If these are flowers, then perhaps Baudelaire's title would be particularly apt -- flowers of evil; not as pointing to the writers of these pieces but as reflecting the tragic content of their "tales."

Yet this too would not be wholly true. Evil there is here indeed, a darkness of evil so dense that no light could penetrate it; evil so abysmal and so depraved that no report and no portrayal can be commensurate with it. Some of this evil, or at least an intimation of it, insofar as language can depict and reveal it, is congealed in this anthology. But that is not all: there is here goodness also, nuances and modulations of goodness from the slight and barely noticeable to the heights and depths of self-sacrifice, of devotion unto death. Beyond goodness or perhaps as a component of it, there is here an epic of courage, a kind of courage that our civilization is not always willing or able to grasp.

In what sense then is this volume an anthology? Well, in the simple sense that it is a book of books, that it consists of selections from other books, carefully made with certain criteria in mind. Hundreds of books have already been written about the Holocaust, about the martyrdom of the Six Million, and many more will be written and published. Naturally these books differ in degree of merit, differ and overlap too in theme and content; some had their source and origin in the agony of the concentration camp or in the valor of the resistance, and some were done by people who had not felt the agony in their own bones and hearts directly, nor shared personally in the passion of courage. Doubtless most of these books . . .

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