The Holocaust and the Postmodern

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The Holocaust and the Postmodern argues that postmodernism, especially understood in the light of the work of Emmanuel Levinas and Jacques Derrida, is a response to the Holocaust. This way of thinking offers new perspectives on Holocaust testimony, literature, historiography, and post-Holocaust philosophy. While postmodernism is often derided for being either playful and superficial or obscure and elitist, this book argues and demonstrates its commitment both to the past and to ethics.

Dealing with Holocaust testimony, including the work of Primo Levi and Eli Wiesel, with the memoirs of "second generation" survivors and with recent Holocaust literature, including Anne Michael's Fugitive Pieces, Jonathan Safran Foer's Everything is Illuminated and the false memoir of "Benjamin Wilkomirski," Eaglestone argues for a new way of reading both Holocaust testimony and Holocaust fiction. Through an exploration of Holocaust historiography, the book offers a new approach to debates over truth and memory. Eaglestone argues for the central importance of the Holocaust in understanding the work of Emmanuel Levinas and Jacques Derrida, and goes on to explore what the Holocaust means for rationality, ethics, and for the idea of what it is to be human. Weaving together theory and practice, testimony, literature, history, philosophy, and Holocaust studies, this interdisciplinary book is the first to explore in detail the significance of the Holocaust for postmodernism, and the significance of postmodernism for understanding the Holocaust.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Eaglestone's book is surely the definitive work on this subject and it will remain so for a long time. The breadth and scope of his knowledge of literature on the Holocaust and of postmodern fiction and criticism, not to mention history and historiography, is truly staggering.... Scholars of the postmodern, Holocaust literature, and history will find this a gold mine. Essential."—Choice
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780199265930
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 3/10/2005
  • Pages: 380
  • Product dimensions: 8.60 (w) x 5.70 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

University of London
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Table of Contents

Reading and the Holocaust
1. 'Not read and consumed in the same way as other books': Identification and the Genre of Testimony
2. Traces of Experience: The Texts of Testimony
3. 'Faithful and doubtful, near and far': Memory, Postmemory, and Identity
4. Holocaust Reading: Memory and Identification in Holocaust Fiction 1990-2003
Holocaust Metahistories
5. Against Historicism: History, Memory, and Truth
6. 'Are Footnotes Less Barbaric?': History, Memory, and the Truth of the Holocaust in the Work of Saul Friedländer
7. ' What Constitutes a Historical Explanation?': Metahistory and the Limits of Historical Explanation in the Goldhagen/Browning Controversy
8. The Metahistory of Denial: The Irving/Lipstadt Libel Case and Holocaust Denial
The Trace of the Holocaust
9. Inexhaustible Meaning, Inextinguishable Voices: Levinas and the Holocaust
10. Cinders of Philosophy, Philosophy of Cinders: Derrida and the Trace of the Holocaust
11. The Limits of Understanding: Perpetrator Philosophy and Philosophical Histories
12. The Postmodern, the Holocaust, and the Limits of the Human

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