Beyond Auschwitz: Post-Holocaust Jewish Thought in America by Michael L. Morgan

By Michael L. Morgan

To at the present time Jewish thinkers fight to articulate the ideal reaction to the extraordinary disaster of the Holocaust. the following, Morgan bargains the 1st entire assessment of Post-Holocaust Jewish theology, quoting commonly from and analyzing the entire major American writings of the circulate. Morgan's lucid research clarifies the historical past of the circulation within the postwar interval, its origins, its personality, and its legacy for next pondering, theological and another way. finally, Morgan's fundamental function is to inform the tale of the circulate, to light up its actual, deep element, and to illustrate its carrying on with relevance this day.

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4 Lionel Trilling, perhaps the foremost literary critic among the post-war New York intellectuals, developed the same theme but in his own way. 8 Trilling's problem is somewhat different, not what conditions gave rise to the novel but rather what accounts for its continued existence or, counterfactually, what would account for its demise. Trilling proposed three possible explanations for the death of the novel. 9 In the end, what he recommended, however, is a hybrid; he believed that circumstances changed but that the novel could and should be a device for coping with them.

It was experience and not interpretation that destroyed thought and language. For these people, the result of living in Auschwitz and experiencing these horrors was an inability to use certain ideas, to hold certain beliefs, or to adhere to certain principles. 21 The victim, and the reader through the victim or witness, cannot believe principles about human solidarity, compassion, and goodness and at the same time be honest to his or her experiences. The threat is one of personal disintegration, a kind of schizophrenia or self-detachedness, and the issue one of integrity.

In general, the impact of the Holocaust on the work of postwar American intellectuals was neither direct nor overwhelming. Trilling's explicit acknowledgment was unusual, and even it is not central to his essay. He does not, nor would we expect him to, ask the general question, can one write novels after the death camps? In this regard he is not alone. 15 During the postwar decades, more and more testimonies by survivors appeared. Elie Wiesel and Primo Levi were two figures whose work later came to be among the most widely read and whose writings most powerfully captured the thought and imagination of the post-Holocaust Jewish thinkers and indeed of North American Jews in general.

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