The Conscience of Humankind

Literature and Traumatic Experiences


Edited by Elrud Ibsch, Douwe Fokkema and Joachim von der Thüsen

The traumatic experiences of persecution and genocide have changed traditional views of literature. The discussion of historical truth versus aesthetic autonomy takes an unexpected turn when confronted with the experiences of the victims of the Holocaust, the Gulag Archipelago, the Cultural Revolution, Apartheid and other crimes against humanity. The question is whether - and, if so, to what extent - literary imagination may depart from historical truth. In general, the first reactions to traumatic historical experiences are autobiographical statements, written by witnesses of the events. However, the second and third generations, the sons and daughters of the victims as well as of the victimizers, tend to free themselves from this generic restriction and claim their own way of remembering the history of their parents and grandparents. They explore their own limits of representation, and feel free to use a variety of genres; they turn to either realist or postmodernist, ironic or grotesque modes of writing.

On Dissidents and Madness

From The Soviet Union of Leonid Brezhnev to the "Soviet Union" of Vladimir Putin


Robert van Voren

The book contains the memoirs of Robert van Voren covering the period 1977-2008 and provides unique insights into the dissident movement in the Soviet Union in the 1980s, both inside the country and abroad. As a result of his close friendship with many of the leading dissidents and his dozens of trips to the USSR as a courier, he had intimate knowledge of the ins and outs of the dissident movement and participated in many of the campaigns to obtain the release of Soviet political prisoners. In the late 1980s he became involved in building a humane and ethical practice of psychiatry in Eastern Europe and the (ex-) USSR, based on respect for the human rights of persons with mental illness. The book describes the dissident movement and many of the people who formed it, mental health reformers in Eastern Europe and the response of the Western psychiatric community, the battle with the World Psychiatric Association over Soviet, and later, Chinese political abuse of psychiatry, his contacts with former KGB officers and problems with the KGB’s successor organization, the FSB. It also vividly describes the emotional effects of serving as a courier for the dissident movement, the fear of arrest, the pain of seeing friends disappear for many years into camps and prisons, sometimes never to return.

Irene Zohrab

things … Why wilt though slay me?’ And so I struggled and plunged, deeper and deeper, and went down into a living black tomb. I was alone there, with no power to stir of think; alone with myself; beyond the reach of all human fellowship, beyond Christ’s reach, I thought, in my nightmare. ( tbs , 316

Eward Ascroft

precisely across levels of the phenomenological world and of language. The “I” who is a metonymy of the implied reader, protagonist, and author is not caught in a gaze that subsumes all meaning (a kind of literary black hole) but rather is caught in the impossibility of extrication and self-mastery: of

Dostoevsky, Filaret, and The Principles of Christian Teaching

Personal Responsibility and the Corruption of Authority in ‘The Brothers Karamazov’

Nicholas Rzhevsky

prelates of the Russian Orthodox Church, a member of the “black clergy,” that is, a monk who lived his life under a strict regime of monastic rules and customs. He was known for his disparagement of all luxuries and for his insistence that his clothing, lodging, and food be as humble as that of the most

Irene Zohrab

by the “Black cabinet” ( Chernyi kabinet ) and posted with that understanding. 17 Here he abuses Belinsky for some of his actions and views, blaming him amongst other things for being instrumental in influencing the liberal Western-oriented generation of the 1840s and supporters of a host of

Géza S. Horváth

Scarlet Letter , the opposing forces are clearly personified, in, on the one hand, the figure of Chillingworth as satanic husband (he is called “Black Man”, he is an alien who came to the New World via the sea, like Leviatan/dragon; or who came out of the netherworld”), and, on the other, in the form of

Denis Zhernokleyev

twenty minutes silently stare at him (409/8:340). In Rogozhin’s silent eyes Ippolit recognizes the same dumb annihilating force of nature which, in the semblance of the black tarantula, leaped at him from Holbein’s painting. Ippolit is deeply offended by the silence of Rogozhin’s presence, which