The Holocaust and the Postmodern

The Holocaust and the Postmodern

by Robert Eaglestone
     
 

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Robert Eaglestone 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

Overview

Robert Eaglestone 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, Eaglestone 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, The Holocaust and the Postmodern proposes 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.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"A superb discussion of the metahistorical polarity between the work of Daniel Goldhagen and Christopher Browning... demonstrates the strengths of postmodernism and establishes Robert Eaglestone as one of its most accomplished practitioners. His book deserves to be read by sceptics and partisans of postmodernism alike."—David Cesarani, Times Literary Supplement

"There can be little doubt that Eaglestone is a fine literary critic, astutely addressing questions that other scholars, more constrained by disciplinary boundaries, have not succeeded in answering."—Efraim Sicher, European Legacy

"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

"The book is a very wide-ranging examination of the place of the Holocaust in contemporary cultural discourse.... offers a fascinating typology of the genre of Holocaust testimony.... Eaglestone offers a new and literary view of testimony which he links with postmodernism through their shared concern with identity and self-construction."—Sue Vice, Holocaust Studies: A Journal of Culture and History

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780199239375
Publisher:
Oxford University Press, USA
Publication date:
05/15/2008
Pages:
380
Product dimensions:
5.30(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.90(d)

Meet the Author

University of London

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