Page 48 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 37

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JEWISH BOOK ANNUAL
achieve the goals o f a Jewish conspiracy to take over the world.
The Fabrication o f a Hoax
by A r th u r R. Butz is one o f the more
notorious examples o f such attempts. Since in creative litera tu re
this a t titude speaks
ex silentio
it is no t easily recognized. No one can
direc t an au tho r to deal with a specific topic. I f a work deals with a
period in European history du r ing which H itle r’s National So­
cialist ideology de term ined the affairs o f state and behavior o f
men, and chooses to make no mention o f concen tra tion camps,
forced labor, and ex term ina tion programs, tha t may mean tha t
the au tho r has exercised his artistic choice o f subject and not tha t
he is dismissing o r denying the Holocaust. But the fact is tha t such
works do exist, even as more overt abuses o f the Holocaust are
found with increasing frequency in
belles-lettres.
BANAL APPROACH
I t is no t uncommon to encoun te r in con temporary fiction what
I would characterize as the “d im inu tion ,” o r even the “trivializa-
tion” o f the Holocaust. In these instances the Holocaust is r e ­
duced to a convenient po in t o f comparison, a handy me taphor.
T he ra th e r successful and well-received novel by Jam es Goldman,
The Man From Greek and, Roman
(1975), offers us an example o f
this form o f “d im inu tion .” T he climax o f the novel is placed on a
yacht called the “Samovar,” which carries a crew o f 30 and is one
o f the few luxury yachts left in the world. T h e hero and hero ine o f
the novel find themselves on this yacht p repa ring to con fron t the
master-m ind behind the plot to steal a grea t museum treasure.
Looking about him the hero remarks: “I t ’s Buchenwald with
servants” (p. 237), an insensitive reduc tion o f the Holocaust to a
light, glib metaphor.
T h e re are instances where glibness is no t the sin, in which
recourse to the Holocaust as an app rop ria te comparison rises ou t
o f a searing personal sorrow o r rend ing anguish. T he to rm en t
which tore at the psyche o f Sylvia Plath and drove h e r to a ttem p t
suicide “one year in every ten ” before her tragically successful last
attempt, found its voice in h e r poem “Lady Lazarus” :
A sort o f walking miracle, my skin
Bright as a Nazi lampshade,
My right foot
A paperweight,
My face a featureless, fine
Jew linen