Hungerford, Amy: The Holocaust of Texts. Genocide, Literature, and Personification. Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press, 2003. (232 S.)
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|Resource type: Book
ID no. (ISBN etc.): 0226360768
BibTeX citation key: Hungerford2003a
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Keywords: "Maus", Holocaust, Spiegelman. Art, Trauma, USA
Publisher: Univ. of Chicago Press (Chicago)
S. 73–96: Kap. 3: Surviving Rego Park.
Why do we so often speak of books as living, flourishing, and dying? This habit of treating books as people, or personifying texts, is rampant in postwar American culture. In this bracing study, Amy Hungerford argues that personification has become pivotal to our understanding of both literature and of genocide. Personified texts, she contends, appear frequently in works where the systematic destruction of entire ethnic groups is at issue.
Hungerford examines the implications of this trend in a broad range of texts: Art Spiegelman's Maus; Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451; the poetry of Sylvia Plath; Binjamin Wilkomirski's fake Holocaust memoir Fragments; the fiction of Saul Bellow, Philip Roth, and Don DeLillo; and the work of contemporary trauma theorists and literary critics. Ultimately, she argues that the personification of texts in these works is ethically corrosive. When we exalt the literary as personal and construe genocide as less a destruction of human life than of culture, we esteem memory over learning, short-circuit debates about cultural extinction, and drastically limit our conception of literature and its purpose.
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