Voicing the Void: Muteness and Memory in Holocaust Fiction

By Sara R. Horowitz | Go to book overview

1
Introduction

The Idea of Fiction

I remember at one time poets used to "poeticize" it is still possible to write verses it is also possible to do many other things

-- Tadeusz Rozewics

Although it claims a vast and growing readership, Holocaust fiction goes against the grain. In the ongoing critical discourse about the Holocaust and its representation, the status of imaginative literature as a serious venue for reflections about historical events comes repeatedly under question. Holocaust fiction is seen by many readers as--at best--a weaker, softer kind of testimony when compared to the rigors of history, or--at worst--a misleading, dangerous confusion of verisimilitude with reality. Louis Begley, in reflecting on the connection of his novels to his personal experience as a child survivor, succinctly articulates what many readers find most problematic about the idea of Holocaust fiction: "To separate what is true from what is not would be like trying to unscramble an omelet" (Fein C10). But the word "fiction" as a synonym for "lies" poses it antithetically to truth and reflects negatively on the expressive possibilities of a particular literary form when applied to the world of actual events.

The present study presumes fiction as a serious vehicle for thinking about the Holocaust. The trope of muteness, predominant in Holocaust narratives of all sorts, functions in fiction deliberately and explicitly to

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Voicing the Void: Muteness and Memory in Holocaust Fiction
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Acknowledgments vii
  • 1- Introduction - The Idea of Fiction 1
  • 2- The Figure Of Muteness 33
  • 3- Voices from The Killing Ground 47
  • 4- The Mute Language Of Brutality 71
  • 5- The Reluctant Witness 95
  • 6- Muted Chords - From Victim to Survivor 109
  • 7- The Night Side Of Speech 157
  • 8- Refused Memory 181
  • 9- The Chain Of Testimony 217
  • Notes 227
  • Bibliography 245
  • Index 265
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