Page 119 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 54

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Abuse oftheHolocaust
Jong offers a full demonstration. At the novel’s start, Isadora, the
autobiographical heroine, is suffering from the tribulations which
beset writers of best-sellers. Depressed by a dismal, obligatory lit­
erary cocktail party, she runs back to her hotel room, throws her­
self on her lonely bed, tries to ease her unhappiness,
unsuccessfully, by masturbating, conjures up a visions of hostile
critics, and cries out:
I was dying. Under the critics’ black wings, under the pervert’s urine-
stained sheets . . . I was sinking into the grave as surely as any derelict in the
Bowery, as surely as the Jews gassed at Auschwitz had (p. 16).
There is, perhaps, some solace to be found in the hope that there
cannot be many who are so insensitive.
Another type of abuse of the Holocaust, encountered with in­
creasing frequency in fiction, I would typify as the “pornographi-
cation” of the Holocaust. There are many novels—“thrillers”—
which use the Holocaust to give an extra fillip, an additional fris­
son, to the thrills they offer. Noel Behn is a writer of novels of in­
trigue and espionage who has been hailed as one of the masters of
the craft. His novel
The ShadowBoxer
(1969) was praised as an out­
standing example of the genre, a well written and exciting book.
The action is set in Nazi Germany at war’s end and involves an in­
tricate and mysterious plot to save people from extermination and
topple Hider’s government. Spangler, the novel’s protagonist, is
an agent whose exploits of derring-do verge on the miraculous. He
slides in and out concentration camps defying capture and identi­
fication while sprinting important prisoners to safety. Descriptions
of the
univers concentrationnaire
, the horrendous conditions under
which human beings were forced to live, the tortures to which they
were put, the sadism of concentration camp commanders and
guards, the brutality of Kapos, the starvation, the beatings are
there, but they form a backdrop for the romanticized exploits of