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.

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”For those … interested in mapping out and finding relevant contributions for such a critical area, the present volume is a “must”.” in: Literary Research/Recherche Littérature, Vol. 19. Nos. 7-38, 2002
Elrud IBSCH: Preface. I. WRITING THE HOLOCAUST. Glenda ABRAMSON: The Cultural Uses of the Holocaust. Amir ESHEL: Aporias of Time: A Rhetorical Figure in the Poetry of Jewish Authors after the Shoah. Steven JARON: At the Edge of Humanity: The Dismissal of Historical Truth in Piotr Rawicz’s Novel Le Sang du ciel. Maria Eduarda KEATING: Esthétiques de la discrétion: Georges Perec et Robert Bober. Tadeusz KOWZAN: Théâtre de l’enfermement. Jan van LUXEMBURG: Testimony of a Persecuted Romanist: On Victor Klemperer’s Diaries. Bernadette MORAND: Les Écrits des prisonniers politiques. Michal MROZOWICKI: Le Roi des Aulnes ou le jeu dangereux. Nathaniel WALLACE: Cultural Dormancy and Collective Memory from the Book of Genesis to Aharon Appelfeld. Charlotte WARDI: Mémoires romanesques de la Shoah. Monika WO_NIAK: Embarrassing Problems Connected with Polish Concentration Camp Literature. II. PARTING FROM COMMUNISM. Dagmar BURKHART: Stalinism versus European Cultural Memory in the Poetry of Osip Mandel’štam. Jianguo CHEN: Against Silence: The Cultural Revolution and Literary Memory. Halina JANASZEK-IVANI_KOVÁ: Fears, Phobias and Hopes in the Dream-Books of Polish, Czech and Slovak Dissidents prior to 1989. Judith KARAFIÁTH: Visiteurs au village Potemkin. Christine KIEBUZINSKA: Caryl Churchill’s Mad Forest: Reconstructing Cultural Memory. Rama KUNDU: ‘Prague Spring’ and the Novels of Milan Kundera. Ioana MARASESCU: Document et anti-utopie dans la littérature roumaine des anciens détenus politiques. Liviu PAPADIMA: Perpetual Crisis? Literature and Historical Change: Romanian Literature after the Fall of Communism. III. REFLECTING APARTHEID. Ina GRÄBE: Telling the ‘Truth’: Collective Memory of South Africa’s Apartheid Heritage in Oral Testimony and Fictional Narrative. Philip JOHN: Historical Trauma and the Desire for Absolution: Saying On the Contrary to the Commissioning of Truth. Cathy MAREE: Theatre and the Struggle of Memory against Forgetting in Latin America and South Africa. Fanie OLIVIER: Bulldozer: The Edifices of the Social Engineering of Group Areas Apartheid in South African Afrikaans Literature. Helize van VUUREN: Marginalised Early South African Testimonies: “//Kabbo’s Intended Return Home” (1873) and The Conversion: Death Cell Conversations of ‘Rooizak’ and the Missionaries — Lydenburg 1875. IV. RECONSIDERING ETHNICITY. Joel BLACK: The Genealogy of Violence in African-American Literature: Non-Native Sources of Native Son. Kimberly McGHEE: Tales of Betrayal. Jean WILSON: Toni Morrison’s Beloved: A Love Story. V. REMEMBERING WAR AND REVOLUTION. F. GODEAU: Hermann Kesten, Georges Limbour: Visions de l’Apocalypse espagnole. Naomi MATSUOKA: Pynchon and Oe: Contemporary Conspiracies and World War II. Antonio MONEGAL: Writing War: The Bosnian Conflict in Spanish Literature. George L. SCHEPER: Reverberations of the Battle of Kosovo: The Mountain Wreath and Ethnic Cleansing. Joachim von der THÜSEN: Unfinished History: The French Revolution as Subtext in Hölderlin’s Tod des Empedokles.