Sounds of Defiance: The Holocaust, Multilingualism and the Problem of English

By Gubar, Susan | Shofar, Summer 2007 | Go to article overview

Sounds of Defiance: The Holocaust, Multilingualism and the Problem of English


Gubar, Susan, Shofar


Sounds of Defiance: The Holocaust, Multilingualism and the Problem of English, by Alan Rosen. Lincoln and London: University of Nebraska Press, 2005. 241 pp. $45.00.

Alan Rosen, who has read widely in recent scholarship on the Holocaust, engages the ideas of such thinkers as Dorothy Bilik, Shoshana Felman, Sander Gilman, Alan Mintz, and Hana Wirth-Nesher. Like many of these critics, he approaches the subject of Holocaust history, fiction, and film with an appreciation of spoken and written Polish, Yiddish, Hebrew, and German as well as English languages and traditions. Indeed, what he contributes to our understanding of North American litet ary history in the post-World War II period is a keen awareness of how English itself is challenged and changed, devalued and revalued, marginalized and then oddly centralized by the sounds and senses of idioms more deeply implicated in the everyday disasters that beleaguered European Jewry during the "final solution."

Because English was not spoken by most petpetrators and victims, North American creators of testimonials and novels, movies and historical investiga- tions often emphasized the problematical language in which they were composing. Foreign accents and words, narratives about lost and found, learned or regained mother and other tongues abound in Rosen's texts, whose audiors for the most part tecognized the marginality and neutrality of English in relation to the Holocaust experience. The chronological and generic range of Rosen's texts is broad: he includes the psychologist David Boder, whose transcribed interviews of displaced persons were printed in English right after the war, John Hersey's novel The Wall (1950), Ruth Chattertons novel Homeward Borne (1950), Philip Roth's short story "Eli, The Fanatic" (1959), Edward Wallant's novel The Pawnbroker (1961), Hannah Arendts articles on Eichmann in Jerusalem (1963), Sidney Lumet's film adaptation of The Pawnbroker (1965), Cynthia Ozick's two-stoty collection The Shawl (1989), Yaffa Eliach's revision of survivors' stories Hasidic Tales of the Holocaust (1988), Art Spiegelman's Maus (1986-91), and Anne Michaels's lyrical novel Fugitive Pieces (1996).

Each close reading enables Rosen to elaborate upon the different meanings of the English language's marginality and neutrality in relation to the Shoah. Despite a miserably unreliable Index, teachers will find useful insights into wotks often assigned in Holocaust studies courses. Rosen's discussion of Cynthia Ozick's allusions to Celan and Shakespeare, for instance, enriches understanding of maternal loss in The Shawl. Similarly, Rosen explains how Art Spiegelman's survivor-father gains a measure of control and the means to endure persecution through his acquisition of English and yet how his fractured narrative voice manages "to torture English into being a foreign language" (p. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Sounds of Defiance: The Holocaust, Multilingualism and the Problem of English
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    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.