Academic journal article German Quarterly

Schreiben gegen Schweigen: Grenzfahrungen in Jean Amery's autobiographischem Werk

Academic journal article German Quarterly

Schreiben gegen Schweigen: Grenzfahrungen in Jean Amery's autobiographischem Werk

Article excerpt

Fiero, Petra S. Schreiben gegen Schweigen: Grenzfahrungen in Jean Amery's autobiographischem Werk. Hildesheim: Olms, 1997. 187 pp. DM 49.80.

The details of Jean Amery's life are well known. Raised as a Catholic in Vienna as Hans Maier, Am6ry was declared a Jew in the 1930s because of his father's Jewish heritage. He fought against the Nazis in the Belgian resistance movement, was arrested, tortured, and sent to Auschwitz. Somehow he managed to survive the camps, and after the war, he worked as a journalist outside Germany and Austria and became renowned in Europe through his autobiographical books about his experiences during World War II and also through his cultural essays about various social problems that are largely forgotten today. These works reveal his difficulties in dealing with the trauma of his past and accepting the modern progress and reforms in postwar Europe. On October 17,1978, Amery took his own life.

The "simple" facts of his life form the basis of Petra Fiero's poignant study of Amery's troubled existence. The book is divided into five chapters. The first, "Amerys Reflexionen fiber sein Judesein," discusses Amery's endeavors to deal with Jean Paul Sartre's Reflexions sur la question juice in his essays "Ub.er Zwang and Moglichkeit, Jude zu sein" and "Mein Judentum," and also explores Amery's solidarity with Israel. The second chapter, "Die Grenzerfahrung der Folter," uses Elaine Scarry's book The Body in Pain: The Making and Unmaking ofthe World to discuss how Amery tried to depict torture through language. …

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