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Rye, Gill (2009)
Publisher: Berghahn
Languages: English
Types: Article
Subjects: CLL
This article engages with two themes which are key to the special issue, 'The Witness and the Text': (i) the relations between the individual and history, between the private and the public in relation to traumatic events; and (ii) the ethics and aesthetics of testimony and bearing witness, and the role of fiction in this respect. These themes are addressed through analysis of Louise L. Lambrichs's 'Journal d'Hannah' (1993), a fascinating novel, in diary format, about the psychological effects of an abortion, set against the backdrop of the Holocaust. The Jewish woman who reluctantly aborts her second child is in her own mind at once victim, perpetrator and survivor, and consumed by guilt. First, the article considers the mirroring structure of the novel, which arguably invites a comparison between the trauma of the abortion and the trauma of the Holocaust. It then examines the historical context of the setting and the writing of the novel. Finally, it identifies the ethical impetus of the text in its treatment of guilt and responsibility, with particular regard to contemporary France's troubled relationship with its wartime past.
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    • Montremy, J.-M. de (1993) 'La maison de secret', La Croix-L'Événement (3-4 October).
    • Motte, Warren (2008) Fiction Now: The French Novel in the Twenty-First Century (Champaign and London: Dalkey Archive Press).
    • Nobécourt, Lorette (1998) La Conversation (Paris: Grasset).
    • Perrier, Jean-Claude (2004) 'Louise attaque', Livres Hebdo (17 December).
    • Remy, Jacqueline (1993) 'Une enfant de rêve', L'Express (7 October).
    • Rosnay, Tatiana de (2007) Elle s'appelait Sarah, trans. Agnès Michaux (Paris: Éditions Héloïse d'Ormesson).
    • Sardin, Pascale (2008) 'Towards an ethics of witness, or the story and history of “une minuscule détresse” in Annie Ernaux's L'Événement and Nancy Huston's Instruments des ténèbres', French Studies 62.3 (July), 301-12.
    • Silverman, Max (2008) 'Interconnected histories: Holocaust and Empire in the cultural imaginary', French Studies 62.4 (October), 417-28.
    • Todorov, Tzvetan (1998) Les Abus de la mémoire (Paris: Arléa).
    • Verdussen, Monique (1993) 'Le cri retenu du “Journal d'Hannah”', La Libre Belgique (20-21 November).
    • Whitehead, Anne (2004) Trauma Fiction (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press).
    • Wolf, Joan B. (2004) Harnessing the Holocaust: The Politics of Memory in France (Stanford CA: Stanford University Press).
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