After Such Knowledge: Memory, History, and the Legacy of the Holocaust

After Such Knowledge: Memory, History, and the Legacy of the Holocaust

by Eva Hoffman


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781586483043
Publisher: PublicAffairs
Publication date: 04/25/2005
Pages: 320
Product dimensions: 5.12(w) x 8.12(h) x 0.75(d)

About the Author

Eva Hoffman was born in Cracow, Poland, and emigrated to Canada at the age of thirteen. She is the author of three highly acclaimed works of nonfiction, Lost in Translation, Exit into History, and Shtetl, and one novel, The Secret. She divides her time between London and Cambridge, Massachusetts, where she is a visiting professor at MIT.

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Memory, History, and the Legacy of the Holocaust


Public Affairs

ISBN: 1-58648-046-4

Chapter One

In our small apartment, it was a chaos of emotion that emerged from my
parents' memories. Many others who had grown up in households like mine
remember the peculiar form of that speech under the pressure of pain. The
memories-no, not memories but emanations-of wartime experiences kept
erupting in flashes of imagery, in abrupt, fragmented phrases, in
repetitious, broken refrains. Beyond that, and in the lacunae between
words, there was that most private and potent of family languages-the
language of the body. The past broke through in the sounds of nightmares,
the idiom of sighs and illness, of tears and the acute aches that were the
legacy of the damp attic and the conditions my parents endured during
their hiding. In the midst of her daily round, my mother would suddenly be
overcome by a sharp, terrible image, or by tears. On other subjects, she
was robustly articulate; but when sudden recall of her loved ones
punctured her mind's protective membrane, speech came in frail phrases, in
litanies of sorrow.

There were the images she returned to again and again, the dark amulets:
how she and my father spent their days in a forest bunker, and how she
waited for him, alone, as he went out to forage or plead for food in the
night. How they later sat in a peasant's attic for two years, in wet
straw, shivering from cold in the winter and from hunger in all seasons.
How her sister-this was the heart of grief-had been murdered. She was
shot into a mass grave in Zalosce, not far from where my parents were
hiding. A witness later told my mother that the Jews rounded up for that
particular massacre had to dig the pit into which their bodies were
subsequently thrown, sometimes still quivering with remainders of life.
She was just nineteen, my mother would say about her sister, and begin to

The episodes, the talismanic litanies, were repeated but never elaborated
upon. They remained compressed, packed, sharp. I suppose the unassimilable
character of the experiences they referred to was expressed-and passed
on-through this form. For it was precisely the indigestibility of these
utterances, their fearful weight of densely packed feeling, as much as any
specific content, that I took in as a child. The fragmentary phrases
lodged themselves in my mind like shards, like the deadly needles I
remember from certain fairytales, which pricked your flesh and could never
be extracted again.


by EVA HOFFMAN Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents

Part IFrom Event to Fable1
Part IIFrom Fable to Psyche31
Part IIIFrom Psyche to Narrative75
Part IVFrom Narrative to Morality101
Part VFrom Morality to Memory149
Part VIFrom Memory to the Past201
Part VIIFrom the Past to the Present235
Selected Bibliography281

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