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Title: The “Other” Voice in Survivor Narratives: A Gender-Based Approach to the Holocaust
Authors: Arias, Rosario
Keywords: Gender-Based and Holocaustgender woundingwomen’s position in Holocaust literaturewomen’s position in the Holocaust
Issue Date: 2020
Publisher: EUT Edizioni Università di Trieste
Source: Rosario Arias, "The “Other” Voice in Survivor Narratives: A Gender-Based Approach to the Holocaust", in: Cinzia Ferrini (Edited by), "Human Diversity in Context", Trieste EUT Edizioni Università di Trieste, 2020, pp. 333-347
In this essay I undertake a gender-based approach to survivor narratives written by women, a controversial topic among historians of the Holocaust. Two oft-quoted texts in survivor narratives, Primo Levi’s If This is a Man (1947) and Elie Wiesel’s Night (1960), among others, have always attracted critical attention since they were first published. However, women’s survivor narratives have been conspicuously absent from critical study, or rather, they have not been analysed from the specificity of a gender approach. Since the 1990s, Carol Ritter, Joan Ringelheim and Sara Horowitz have been keen to produce the perspective of the ‘other’ voice by paying attention to the way women are figured in texts by men, to the way women’s personal experiences are portrayed in women’s narratives, and finally, the significance of gender in understanding the Holocaust as a whole. In this sense, the conceptualisation of “gender wounding”, defined as “a shattering of something innate and important to her sense of her own womanhood”, will be crucial in my take on women and gender in the Holocaust. For example, Charlotte Delbo’s trilogy Auschwitz and After (1995), which consists of three volumes, None of Us Will Return (1946/1965), Useless Knowledge (1946‑47/1970) and The Measure of Our Days (1960s/1971), translated into English by Rosette C. Lamont, has contributed to a more nuanced analysis of survivor narratives, in general, but also of the gender aspects narrated in her text, in particular. When her husband was killed in May in 1942, and she was transported to Auschwitz, alongside two hundred and thirty other Frenchwomen, most of them members of the Resistance, and who had been arrested not for ethnic or religious issues, but for political issues. Delbo stayed in Birkenau, (the female side of Auschwitz, and a satellite camp) until January 1944, and then she was sent to Ravensbrück, a women’s concentration camp. Interestingly, this camp has been neglected in the work of the historians. Sarah Helm, in her If This Is a Woman: Inside Ravensbrück: Hitler’s Concentration Camp for Women (2015), whose title plays with Levi’s well-known title, attempts to set history right in giving Ravensbrück, as well as the stories generated in the camp, the place it deserves in the history of the Holocaust. Therefore, in my essay I deal with the ways in which the female voice, a vulnerable ‘other’ within others, is heard, and how this will help the reader re-orient women’s position in the history of the Holocaust and in Holocaust literature.
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-88-5511-112-6
eISBN: 978-88-5511-113-3
Rights: Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 Internazionale
Appears in Collections:Human Diversity in Context

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