Perpetrators in Holocaust NarrativesEncountering the Nazi Beast
This study provides a comprehensive analysis of representations of Holocaust perpetrators in literature. Such texts, often rather controversially, seek to undo the myth of pure evil that surrounds the Holocaust and to reconstruct the perpetrator in more human (“banal”) terms. Following this line of thought, protagonists frequently place emphasis on the contextual or situational factors that led up to the genocide. A significant consequence of this is the impact that it has on the reader, who is thereby drawn into the narrative as a potential perpetrator who could, in similar circumstances, have acted in similar ways. The tensions that this creates, especially in relation to the construction of empathy, constitutes a major focus of this work. Making use of in excess of sixty primary sources, this work explores fictional accounts of Holocaust perpetration as well as Nazi memoirs. It will be of interest to anyone working in the broad areas of Holocaust literature and/or perpetrator studies.
Introduction.- Section I: On the Humanity of Nazis: Establishing (Un-)Commonality with the Reader.- Chapter One: Nazis in Society.- Chapter Two: Subverting Connections with the Reader.- Chapter Three: Drawing the Reader into the Narrative.- Section II: Between the Man and the (Nazi) Symbol.- Introduction.- Chapter Four: Cogs in the Machine: Testimonies of Holocaust Perpetrators.- Chapter Five: Adolf Hitler in Fiction and Memory.- Conclusion.- Conclusion: Returning to the Role of the Reader.- Bibliography.- Index.
Joanne Pettitt is an Assistant Lecturer at the University of Kent, UK, where she teaches on a range of undergraduate modules. Her research interests include, but are not limited to, the following: literature of the Holocaust; representations of culpability; memory discourses and politics, especially relating to memories of genocide; comparative genocide studies; trauma studies; existentialism.
Makes extensive use of a wide variety of primary sourcesEngages with both fiction and non-fictionFocuses on reader response and the construction of empathy
“Joanne Pettitt’s book is an excellent and highly original contribution to the newly established field of perpetrator studies, in which she takes the innovative approach of tracing textual and ethical patterns in more than 60 primary sources. These range from fiction by such novelists as Edgar Hilsenrath, David Grossman and Jodi Picoult, to fi ctional versions of the fi gure of Adolf Hitler, and analyses of the memoirs of perpetrators themselves, including the autobiography of Rudolf Höss. By this means, Dr Pettitt carefully draws out signifi cant elements of these texts’ designs on the reader and the narrative strategies they must adopt in order to represent such a problematic topic.” (Prof Sue Vice, University of Sheffield, UK)
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