Responses to Auschwitz and the Literary Imagination

Michael L. Morgan

in Beyond Auschwitz

Published in print October 2001 | ISBN: 9780195148626
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780199870011 | DOI:
Responses to Auschwitz and the Literary Imagination

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The views of various American liberal intellectuals and Jewish writers on the Nazi death camps are discussed, starting with Lionel Trilling, a postwar New York literary critic, who addressed the issue of the death of the novel and the impotence of the mind in relation to the horror of the Nazi camps. The main part of the chapter is devoted to a discussion of the testimonies of three death camp survivors – Elie Wiesel, Primo Levi, and Jean Améry. Levi's viewpoint of the camps is not that of a religious Jew, but as a scientist and secular humanist, and he discusses the fact that normal prisoners (like Wiesel and Améry) were perhaps not in the best position to report on the camps, while those who held privileged positions (like himself) perhaps were.

Keywords: American writers; death camp survivors; death camps; Elie Wiesel; history; Holocaust; Jean Améry; Jewish history; Jewish writers; Nazism; Primo Levi; Lionel Trilling

Chapter.  9074 words. 

Subjects: Judaism and Jewish Studies

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