gives it a sexist tag
when we use the standard of audible and visual insult.
And this is the problem, of course –insults, damage and trauma are as
likely to be triggered and inflicted by what is not said or shown as by what is
loud and clear. To give one more example, in a class I taught on the Holocaust
a few years ago, students were appalled and shocked on the first day of class
when I showed clips from Alain Resnais’s classic 1955 film Night and Fog. The
now all-too-familiar imagery of bodies being shovelled into shallow graves,
of mounds of rotting and
society’ (Tronto, 2013 : 2). Carelessness is a comment on the absurdity of cuts to social care in the local authorities in the UK that, in the name of ‘personalisation’, has led to one announcing that support will be offered at the level of ‘just enough’ (Salford City Council, 2012 : 30). However, this critique has a longer history. Another way of describing what I am calling here the careless society is through the notion of a ‘contract of mutual indifference’, outlined by political scientist Norman Geras in his work on ‘political philosophy after the holocaust
The representation of violence in Northern Irish art
avoidance of, the hackneyed phrase and the clichéd response have served
them well when approaching other violent events such as the extermination of the Jews under the Nazi regime. One poet in particular, Michael
Longley, has been especially vocal in his desire to avoid treating the
Holocaust as ‘a mere subject’:
The German philosopher Adorno suggested that there could be no more
poetry after Auschwitz. Perhaps he meant that after the holocaust poetry
could not remain the same. In which case I agree with him. But I also
believe that if poetry is incapable of
–62; quoted passage
from p. 647.
Dominick LaCapra, Representing the Holocaust: History, Theory, Trauma,
Ithaca and London, Cornell University Press, 1994, p. 14.
Walter Scott, ‘Essay on Romance’, in Prose Works, Vol. 6, p. 171.
James Chandler, England in 1819: The Politics of Literary Culture and the Case
of Romantic Historicism, Chicago and London, University of Chicago Press,
1998, p. 145. See also Scott, ‘Essay on Chivalry’, in Prose Works, Vol. 9, pp.
Scott, Ivanhoe, p. 115.
Scott, Ivanhoe, p. 134.
Scott, Ivanhoe, p. 392.
Nassau Senior, The Quarterly
Memory and identity in Marie Redonnet’s fiction of the 1990s
inventing here takes on a
particularly sinister conﬁguration, for, as the text progresses, it becomes
clear that his parents died in a death camp which has now been erased. His
text, and by extension, Redonnet’s œuvre, may thus be read as an allegory
of the necessity for the creative act, and especially writing, as a means of
resisting memory loss or collective amnesia. And Nevermore in particular –
seeking to resist the deletion of the memory of the horrors of the past –
might even be read as a contemporary commemoration of the victims of the
Willy Bost is far
Sylvie Germain and the generic problems of the Christian novel
().2 Since then she has
produced a steady output of texts: novels (set principally in either the
French provinces or Prague, where she taught philosophy at the Ecole
française from , before returning to France in ); shorter ﬁctional
works; explorations of religious faith articulated around striking commentaries based on both mystical and literary texts; works on Vermeer and on
Holocaust diarist Etty Hillesum; and a venture into children’s writing.
Germain’s work is characterised by a combination of powerful lyricism and
a lush proliferation of imagery, the
, haunting revelation of irreconcilable diﬀerence within. Dreams can provide powerful recompense in the
face of loss and clever encapsulations of psychic dilemmas. However, they
are incomplete without their interpretation in narrative. This is possibly
why dreams fascinate so: they demand explanation as their essential
counterpart. Both narratives point to the limits of the mind’s creative power
in the face of trauma. The events of the Holocaust, for instance, continue
to prove resistant to any form of symbolisation. Yet, in the ﬁnal analysis,
creativity holds our best
state’s killings of Jews. Discussing Ronald Reagan’s respectful tribute at the graves
of SS soldiers at Bitburg in 1985, Geoﬀrey Hartman warned of
a more subtle revisionism . . . all around us that mitigates the horrors of the
camps, not by denying it but by using equalizing comparisons.11
In this way Vietnam becomes a Holocaust – or (a more vexed issue following Elkins) slavery a psychological equivalent of the camps. It is a
problem that besets any comparative study, oﬀering a fatal temptation to
writers to indulge the rhetoric of blame with rival calculators
transformation of the documented
experiences: the aging and natural death of Holocaust survivors, a shift
in the immigrant experience from temporary working arrangement to
permanent family resettlement, the deindustrialization of urban areas,
and the industrialization of agriculture.9 Memorial work, the forging of
a link between present and past, kept the recent past present before it
could slip away.
The figure of the saltimbanque, so prominent in the name of the
1973 Aix-en-Provence festival and in the discourse of street theatre
throughout the 1970s, operates somewhat
‘witnessing’ texts, by both men and women, bringing
into the literary domain, for example, the accounts of Holocaust survivors
and AIDS victims.32 ‘Traumatic experience’ can be understood more
widely, however, to include the loss – the death – of loved ones, abuse
(physical, mental or sexual), terminal illness, exile and experience of collective tragedies: wars, terrorist attacks, major accidents, natural disasters.33 Indeed, the currency of the term has led Hal Foster to identify a
general tendency in contemporary culture ‘to redeﬁne experience, individual and historical