Writing as Resistance: Four Women Confronting the Holocaust: Edith Stein, Simone Weil, Anne Frank, and Etty Hillesum by Rachel Feldhay Brenner | 9780271022857 | Paperback | Barnes & Noble
Writing as Resistance: Four Women Confronting the Holocaust: Edith Stein, Simone Weil, Anne Frank, and Etty Hillesum

Writing as Resistance: Four Women Confronting the Holocaust: Edith Stein, Simone Weil, Anne Frank, and Etty Hillesum

by Rachel Feldhay Brenner
     
 

ISBN-10: 027102285X

ISBN-13: 9780271022857

Pub. Date: 10/28/2003

Publisher: Penn State University Press

In this moving account of the life, work, and ethics of four Jewish women intellectuals in the world of the Holocaust, Rachel Feldhay Brenner explores the ways in which these women sought to maintain their faith in humanity while aware of intensifying destruction. She argues that through their written responses of autobiographical self-assertion Edith Stein, Simone

Overview

In this moving account of the life, work, and ethics of four Jewish women intellectuals in the world of the Holocaust, Rachel Feldhay Brenner explores the ways in which these women sought to maintain their faith in humanity while aware of intensifying destruction. She argues that through their written responses of autobiographical self-assertion Edith Stein, Simone Weil, Anne Frank, and Etty Hillesum resisted the Nazi terror in ways that defy its horrifying dehumanization.

Personal identity crises engendered the intellectual-spiritual acts of autobiographical self-searching for each of these women. About to become a nun in 1933, Edith Stein embarked on her autobiography as a daughter of a Jewish family. Fleeing France and deportation in 1942, Simone Weil examined her inner struggle with faith and the Church in her "Spiritual Autobiography." Hiding for more than two years in the attic, Anne Frank poignantly confided in her diary about her efforts to become a better person. Having volunteered as a social worker in Westerbork, Etty Hillesum searched her soul for love in the reality of terror. In each case, autobiographical writing becomes an act of defiance that asserts humanity in a dehumanized/dehumanizing world.

By focusing on the four women's accomplishments as intellectuals, writers, and thinkers, Brenner's account liberates them from other posthumous treatments that depict them as symbols of altruism, sanctity, and victimization. Her approach also elucidates the particular predicament of Western Jewish intellectuals who trusted the ideals of the Enlightenment and believed in human fellowship. While suffering the terror of physical annihilation decreed by the Final Solution, these Jews had to contend with their exclusion from the world that they considered theirs. On yet another level, this study of four extraordinary life stories contributes to a deeper understanding of the postwar development of ethical, theological, and feminist thought. In showing concern about a world that had ceased to care for them, Stein, Weil, Frank, and Hillesum demonstrated that the meaning of human existence consisted in the responsibility for the other, in the protection of the suffering God, in the primary value of relatedness through empathy. Arguing that their ethical tenets anticipated the thought of such postwar thinkers as Levinas, Fackenheim, Tillich, Arendt, and Nodding, Brenner proposes that the breakup of the humanist tradition of the Enlightenment in the Holocaust engendered the postwar exploration of humanist potential in self-givenness to the other.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780271022857
Publisher:
Penn State University Press
Publication date:
10/28/2003
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
224
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.69(d)

Table of Contents

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS vii
INTRODUCTION: MEANINGS OF RESISTANCE 3(12)
PART ONE RESISTANCE AND HUMANISTIC ETHICS 15(38)
1. THE DIS/CONTINUED DIALOGUE WITH THE ENLIGHTENMENT
15(6)
2. THE ONGOING EDIFICATION OF THE SELF
21(10)
3. THE TRANSCENDING CONSCIOUSNESS OF THE OTHER
31(22)
PART TWO RESISTANCE AND RELIGIOUS IDENTIFICATION 53(66)
4. BETWEEN ECUMENISM AND ANTI-JUDAISM
53(6)
5. STEIN AND WEIL: DIVERGING RESPONSES TO JEWISH AND CHRISTIAN TRADITIONS
59(16)
6. STEIN AND WEIL: BETWEEN SELF-AFFIRMATION AND SELF-RENUNCIATION
75(21)
7. FRANK AND HILLESUM: IDENTITY AND THE SEARCH FOR GOD
96(23)
PART THREE AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL ACTS OF RESISTANCE 119(32)
8. WHERE ART AND SELF MEET
119(4)
9. STEIN AND WEIL: DISPLACED AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL SELVES
123(7)
10. FRANK AND HILLESUM: THE DIARISTS AS GROWING ARTISTS
130(21)
PART FOUR RESISTANCE AND WOMANHOOD 151(23)
11. GENDER CONSCIOUSNESS IN THE RULE OF TERROR
151(3)
12. STEIN AND WEIL: WOMEN'S NATURE AND DESTINY
154(13)
13. TOWARD INTELLECTUAL AND EMOTIONAL MATURITY
167(7)
CONCLUSION: LEGACIES OF RESISTANCE 174(11)
NOTES 185(16)
BIBLIOGRAPHY 201(7)
INDEX 208

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