Voicing the Void: Muteness and Memory in Holocaust Fiction

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SUNY Press, 1997 - Literary Criticism - 276 pages
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Through new close readings of Holocaust fiction, this book takes the field of Holocaust Studies in an important new direction. Reading a wide range of narratives representing different nationalities, styles, genders, and approaches, Horowitz demonstrates that muteness not only expresses the difficulty in saying anything meaningful about the Holocaust it also represents something essential about the nature of the event itself. The radical negativity of the Holocaust ruptures the fabric of history and memory, emptying both narrative and life of meaning. At the heart of Holocaust fiction lies a tension between the silence that speaks the rupture, and the narrative forms that attempt to represent, to bridge it.
This book argues that the central issues in Holocaust historiography and literary criticism are not simply prompted by the fictionality of imaginative literature they are already embedded as self-critique in the fictional narratives. While the current critical discourse argues either for or against the unrepresentability of these events (and thus the appropriateness of imaginative literature), this book develops the theme of muteness as the central way in which literary texts explore and provisionally resolve these central issues. Focusing on the problem of muteness helps unfold the ambivalences and ambiguities that shape the way we read Holocaust fiction, and the way we think about the Holocaust itself."
 

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Contents

Introduction The Idea of Fiction
1
The Figure of Muteness
33
Voices from the Killing Ground
47
The Mute Language of Brutality
71
The Reluctant Witness
95
Muted Chords From Victim to Survivor
109
The Night Side of Speech
157
Refused Memory
181
The Chain of Testimony
217
Notes
227
Bibliography
245
Index
265
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About the author (1997)

Sara Horowitz is Associate Professor of English and Comparative Literature and Director of the Jewish Studies Program at the University of Delaware.

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