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After Such Knowledge: Where Memory of the Holocaust Ends and History Begins
Synopses & Reviews
As the Holocaust recedes in time, the guardianship of its legacy is being passed on from its survivors and witnesses to the next generation. How should they, in turn, convey its knowledge to others? What are the effects of a traumatic past on its inheritors? And what are the second-generation's responsibilities to its received memories?
In this meditation on the long aftermath of atrocity, Eva Hoffman — a child of Polish Jews who survived the Holocaust with the help of neighbors, but whose entire families perished — probes these questions through personal reflections, and through broader explorations of the historical, psychological, and moral implications of the second-generation experience. She examines the subterranean processes through which private memories of suffering are transmitted, and the more willful stratagems of collective memory. She traces the "second generation's" trajectory from childhood intimations of horror, through its struggles between allegiance and autonomy, and its complex transactions with children of perpetrators. As she guides us through the poignant juncture at which living memory must be relinquished, she asks what insights can be carried from the past to the newly problematic present, and urges us to transform potent family stories into a fully informed understanding of a forbidding history.
"[A] beautifully wrought, deftly argued examination of how we might attempt to understand the Holocaust....Hoffman writes with a subdued but vibrant passion." Publishers Weekly
"Literate if sometimes arid essays on the world — intellectual, cultural, and emotional — of the Holocaust's 'second generation.'...A commendable contribution." Kirkus Reviews
"[An] extraordinarily cleareyed and unsentimental meditation on how she was indelibly shaped by the memory of catastrophic events [Hoffman] never knew directly." James E. Young, The New York Times Book Review
Book News Annotation:
Polish-born American writer Hoffman wonders what meaning the Holocaust holds for people like her who did not experience it, and how they can pass that meaning on to subsequent generations. She traces the evolution from event to fable to psyche to narrative to morality to memory, from the past to the present.
Annotation ©2004 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
Sixty years after the Holocaust, Eva Hoffman, the author of the best-selling Lost in Translation and daughter of two Holocaust survivors explores the difficult process of preserving an authentic version of its tragic events.
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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