Page 115 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 54

Basic HTML Version

Abuse of the
Holocaust in Literature
This paper is
part of a larger study which
I have called “The Use and Abuse of the Holocaust in Literature.”
That study treats such questions as: Is the literary imagination ca­
pable of dealing with the Holocaust; is now the time for such en­
deavors; if it is, is the creative pen an adequate instrument for
doing so, and are the available literary forms appropriate for such
undertakings? The focus of my inquiries led me to deal almost en­
tirely with novels written in English, mostly by Americans, the
work of authors who are not themselves survivors of the Holocast,
and who did not experience the Holocaust first-hand.
My examination encompassed the work of many of our serious
and highly regarded literary artists, but did not exclude popular fic­
tion, in the belief that the latter no less than the former can help us
understand problems which confront authors who are led to deal
with the Holocaust, offer us insights into determining why they are
drawn to do so, and aid us in studying the methods and devices em­
ployed by them in dealing with such overwhelming matter.
Because of the limits set for it, my paper will deal only with what
I call “Abuse of the Holocaust in Literature” and will adumbrate
four types of such “abuse.”Two of these types I will touch on rath­
er briefly, pointing to examples which illustrate what I believe to
be more blatant and scabrous abuses. The other two, which I con­
sider to be more subtle and more insidious types of abuse, I will
deal with in some greater length.
There are those who dismiss the Holocaust, wave it away as of
no matter. One of the most respected men of letters in America,
| 107