Gulag Literature and the Literature of Nazi Camps
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189 pages

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Devoted to the ways in which Holocaust literature and Gulag literature provide contexts for each other, Leona Toker's book shows how the prominent features of one shed light on the veiled features and methods of the other. Toker views these narratives and texts against the background of historical information about the Soviet and the Nazi regimes of repression. Writers at the center of this work include Varlam Shalamov, Primo Levi, Elie Wiesel, and Ka-Tzetnik, and others, including Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Evgeniya Ginzburg, and Jorge Semprún, illuminate the discussion. Toker's twofold analysis concentrates on the narrative qualities of the works as well as on the ways in which each text documents the writer's experience and in which fictionalized narrative can double as historical testimony. References to events might have become obscure owing to the passage of time and the cultural diversity of readers; the book explains them and shows how they form new meaning in the text. Toker is well-known as a skillful interpreter of Gulag literature, and this text presents new thinking about how Gulag literature and Holocaust literature enable a better understanding about testimony in the face of evil.


Inter-Contextuality: Introduction

1. The Gulag and Nazi Camps: From Improvisation to Stability

2. Two Strands of Concentration Camp Literature: A Brief History of an Entanglement

3. The Muselmann and the Dokhodiaga

4. Forced Labor

5. The Drowned and the Reprieved

6. On the Way to Resistance

7. Faith

8. Endgames

9. Survivor Guilt

Concluding Reflections

Works Cited




Publié par
Date de parution 28 août 2019
Nombre de lectures 2
EAN13 9780253043559
Langue English

Informations légales : prix de location à la page 0,0050€. Cette information est donnée uniquement à titre indicatif conformément à la législation en vigueur.


Alvin H. Rosenfeld, editor
An Intercontextual Reading
Leona Toker
This book is a publication of

Indiana University Press
Office of Scholarly Publishing
Herman B Wells Library 350
1320 East 10th Street
Bloomington, Indiana 47405 USA

2019 by Leona Toker

All rights reserved
No part of this book may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying and recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher. The paper used in this publication meets the minimum requirements of the American National Standard for Information Sciences-Permanence of Paper for Printed Library Materials, ANSI Z39.48-1992.

Manufactured in the United States of America

Cataloging information is available from the Library of Congress.

ISBN 978-0-253-04351-1 (hdbk.)
ISBN 978-0-253-04353-5 (pbk.)
ISBN 978-0-253-04354-2 (web PDF)

1 2 3 4 5 24 23 22 21 20 19
To Iris, Nitzan, and Ariel
I imagine there will be a flood of accounts. . . . Their value will depend on the worth of the witness, his insight, his judgment.
. . . And then there will be documents. . . . Later, historians will collect, classify, analyze this materials, drawing on it for scholarly words. . . . Everything will be said, put on record. . . . Everything in these books will be true . . . except that they won t contain the essential truth, which no historical reconstruction will ever be able to grasp, no matter how thorough and all inclusive it may be.
The others look at him, nodding, apparently reassured to see that one of us can formulate the problem so clearly.
The other kind of understanding, the essential truth of the experience, cannot be imparted. . . . Or should I say, it can be imparted only through literary writing.
He turns toward me, smiling. Through the artifice of a work of art, of course!

-Jorge Sempr n, Literature or Life
Intercontextuality: Introduction
1 The Gulag and Nazi Camps: From Improvisation to Stability
2 Two Strands of Concentration-Camp Literature: A Brief History of an Entanglement
3 The Muselmann and the Dokhodiaga
4 Forced Labor
5 The Drowned and the Reprieved
6 On the Way to Resistance
7 Faith
8 End Games
9 Survivor Guilt
Concluding Reflections
Works Cited
M Y WORK ON this book continued the attempts made in Return from the Archipelago (Indiana University Press, 2000) to approximate an understanding of a specifically twentieth-century kind of suffering, that of the inmates of concentration camps. It is a tribute to the survivors of the Nazi and Soviet camps who have testified to their experience, often creating accounts to which one turns for the facts but on which one lingers owing to their art of representation.
I am grateful to the colleagues who have encouraged this project and given me the benefit of their insights. I mourn the passing of the earliest advisors of this work-H. M. Daleski (the Hebrew University of Jerusalem), Geoffrey Hartman (Yale), and Emily Budick (the Hebrew University of Jerusalem). Alvin Rosenfeld of the University of Indiana, whose book on Holocaust literature was one of the first I read, as is true for thousands of others, has lent support to this project, read its results with constructive criticism, and gave me much valuable advice. The criticism of David Roskies (Jewish Theological Seminary and the Hebrew University) has led to an important change in the structure of the work; the expertise of Jeff Wallen (Hampshire College) has led both to tightening the material and to filling in gaps. At different stages of the work I have been stimulated by discussions with Pekka Tammi (Tampere University), Anja Tippner (Hamburg University), Elena Mikhailik (University of New South Wales), the writer and Shalamov scholar Valery Esipov (Vologda Exile Museum), Omri Ronen (University of Michigan-Ann Arbor), Beth Holmgren (Duke University), Markku Lehtim ki (University of Eastern Finland), Nora Buhks and Luba Jurgenson (the Sorbonne), Natalia Pervukhina (University of Tennessee-Knoxville), Jakob Lothe (University of Oslo), Gennady Barabtarlo (University of Missouri-Columbia), and Meir Sternberg, Tamar Yacobi, and Dan Laor (Tel Aviv University), as well as with my Hebrew University colleagues Yehiel Szeintuch, Dimitri Segal, Shlomith Rimmon-Kenan, Sidra Ezrachi, Amos Goldberg, Manuela Consonni, Esther Cohen, Edward Waysband, and David Stromberg.
Earlier versions of different portions of the material have appeared in the following publications: On the legitimacy of comparisons: the Gulag goner and the Auschwitz Muselmann, in Jews and Slavs , vol. 14, Festschrift for Professor Ilya Serman, 325-30 (Jerusalem: Gesharim; Moscow: Mosty kultury, 2004; in Russian); Testimony and Doubt: Varlam Shalamov s How It Began and Handwriting, in Real Stories: Imagined Realities: Fictionality and Non-fictionality in Literary Constructs and Historical Contexts , ed. Markku Lehtim ki, Simo Leisti, and Marja Rytk nen, 51-67 (Tampere, Finland: Tampere University Press, 2007); Varlam Shalamov s signs and symbols, in Paths in Art: Symbolism and European Culture in the 20th Century , ed. D. M. Segal and N. M. Segal Rudnik, 380-90 (Moscow: Vodolei, 2008; in Russian); Textes litt raires et documents d archives: entre lision et allusion, in Le Goulag en heritage: Pour une anthropologie de la trace , ed. Elisabeth Anstett and Luba Jurgenson, 89-99 (Paris: P tra, 2009)-revised English and Russian versions published as Literary Texts and Archival Documents: Between Elision and Allusion, Gulag Studies 2-3 (2009-10): 55-67, and Literatura i dokument: Opyt vzaimoprochtenia in Varlam Shalamov v kontekste mirovoi literatury i Sovetskoi istorii , ed. S. M. Soloviev, 103-10 (Moscow: Litera, 2013); Folk Theodicy in Concentration Camps: Literary Representations, in Knowledge and Pain , ed. Esther Cohen, Leona Toker, Manuela Consonni, and Otniel E. Dror, 211-29 (Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2012); Rereading Varlam Shalamov s June and May : Four Kinds of Knowledge, in (Hi-)stories of the Gulag: Fiction and Reality , ed. Felicitas Fischer von Weikersthal and Karoline Thaidigsmann, 193-203 (Heidelberg: Universit tsverlag Winter, 2016); Representation of Forced Labor in Shalamov s Wheelbarrow I and Wheelbarrow II, M moires en jeu / Memories at Stake 1 (September 2016): 77-85; A reconsideration of the concept of heroism in Shalamov s stories, in Zakon soprotivleniya raspadu: Osobennosti prozy i poezii Varlama Shalamova i ikh vospriyatie v nachale XXI veka , ed. Lukasz Babka, Sergey Soloviev, Valery Esipov, and Ian Makhonin, 69-78 (Prague: N rodn knihovna esk republiky, 2017; in Russian); and Towards a Literary History of Concentration Camps: Comparative of Entangled, in Narratives of Annihilation, Confinement, and Survival , ed. Anna Artwi ska and Anja Tippner, 13-29 (Berlin: de Gruyter, 2019). I thank the editors of these collections, as well as Professor Olga Cooke, editor of Gulag Studies , for their feedback.
The structure and texture of this book implements the lessons learned from Michael Scammell s comments on Return from the Archipelago and from the editorial supervision of that 2000 publication by Janet Rabinovich and Dee Mortensen.
I am grateful to my mother, Professor Nedda Strazhas, my first reader, critical and encouraging. My husband, Gregory Toker, has likewise been consistently supportive and made important comments on the logic of the analysis.
In 2004-2007 the project received the generous support of the Israel Science Foundation, grant 435/04. The help of my research assistant, Irina Lyan (now Dr. Lyan), in the framework of this grant, has been invaluable.
Intercontextuality: Introduction
T HIS BOOK IS devoted to narratives of the survivors of some of the worst sites of human suffering in the twentieth century-the Soviet Gulag and the Nazi concentration camps. The works chosen for analysis are those literary representations of the Gulag that can shed light on narratives of the KZ (the Konzentrantsionslager ) and, conversely, those narratives of Nazi camp survivors that provide indirect comments on the Gulag and its literature. 1
Having started as a means of repression and terrorization of antifascists, the KZ eventually became one of the main loci of the Holocaust. The term Holocaust for the Nazi genocidal drive against Jews came into frequent use in the late 1950s (see Bauer 1978, 31); it covers the processes that began with persecution and ghettoization and ended with mass murder. In its concentration-camp constituent and in the history of resistance, the Holocaust overlaps with the experience of non-Jewish victims of Nazism. Holocaust literature has been usefully defined by David Roskies and Naomi Diamant as all forms of writing, both documentary and discursive . . . that have shaped the public memory of the Holocaust and been shaped by it (2012, 2); mutatis mutandis, Gulag literature, whose corpus I have attempted to organize in Return from the Archipelago (2000), can be defined in a similar way. 2 Holocaust literature, however, comprises texts that in Gulag literature would be considered background materials-not only accounts of the ghettos as holding camps for Jews en route to death (Clendinnen 1999, 1), killing ravines such as Babi Yar, and Nazi concentration and extermination camps but also narratives about different aspects and areas of Jewish

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