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date: 15 January 2021

Abstract and Keywords

This article discusses the development of literature of the Holocaust since World War II and endorses a broad definition of Holocaust literature that embraces a range of genres, subject positions, and literary traditions. It argues that such works both resist and embrace integration into the continuum of Jewish and western thought and expression. Holocaust literature mediates life and death, survival and memory, during and after the war, through indirection, fragmentary narratives, and other literary strategies. Self-reflexively ambivalent about literary representation, works of Holocaust literature negotiate the inherent contradictions between historical and imaginative discourses, paradoxically insisting on the need to narrate the events and inner experiences of the Nazi genocide and the impossibility of doing so adequately. As Holocaust imagery increasingly permeates western culture, literature offers not only an ethical discourse of mourning and commemoration but also metaphors for psychological states, social and political issues, and contemporary evil.

Keywords: Holocaust literature, contemporary evil, genocide, Holocaust imagery, Jewish thought, western thought

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