Il était une fois en Aubrac (FICTION) (French Edition)
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In "Plus ca change? Propaganda Fiction for Children, ," Judith K. Proud relates the story of a certain Vincent Dancette. He had written Il etait une fois un pays heureux in One upon a time a happy land , a work of propaganda fiction for children in praise of Marshal Philippe Petain, which was published by a company called La Generale publicite on behalf of Le Bureau de documentation du chef d'etat , Petain's personal propaganda machine.
Around the same time Dancette was publishing Il etait une fois un pays heureux , he began working on another book for children: La Bete est morte. La Guerre mondiale chez les animaux The Beast is dead. The World War among Animals which celebrated the Liberation, and was published by the same Generale publicite in June Nicholas Hewitt in "The Literature of the Right and the Liberation: the Case of the 'Hussards'" demonstrates that young writers linked with the far right Action francaise before the Second World War enjoyed a considerable measure of success in the post-war era. Uranus , an anti-Resistance novel by the right-wing anarchist Marcel Ayme, was, for example, well regarded.
Gender analyses fall short in opening up the Liberation of France to close examination. These consist mainly in glorified cliches and the continuous re-invention of the wheel.
In "Women's Aspirations, An Oral Enquiry in Toulouse," Hanna Diamond conducted a lengthy and time-consuming oral inquiry among women on their aspirations at the Liberation only to learn that most of them had hoped it would bring back their traditional lives as housewives. Some wanted to continue to work outside the home because they had enjoyed their first taste of it.
According to the same oral sources, during the Occupation, women had not surprisingly spent an inordinate amount of time searching for the victuals and other life essentials for their families.
Everywhere in liberated France and in every sphere of life, women were subject to repressive social construction in a patriarchal society. Hilary Footitt, quoting Genevieve Fraisse La Raison des femmes [Paris, ] claims that the election of thirty-three women to the Assemblee constituante , was one "of these historic moments where women defined themselves as women, as the subjects of history" "The First Women Deputies: les 33 Glorieuses", p. During the life of the assembly , they put gender above politics, not letting their political rivalries get in the way of their common interest.
However, after a little more than a year, women reverted to traditional politics, putting the agenda of their political parties ahead of their shared concerns as women. Why did it happen?
Footitt explains it as a result of the imposition of "repressive social construction" on these deputees. Interestingly enough, and contradicting the feminist credo, many women Resisters rejected an interpretation of their actions emphasizing their gender because it was too restrictive.
Such an emphasis may distort reality. For example, it is true that Lucie Aubrac, author of Ils partiront dans l'ivresse , as a woman Resister, had to lead a double life outwitting the Gestapo, but this situation was not created by her gender as much as by her activities as a Resister Claire Gorrara, "Reviewing Gender and the Resistance: the Case of Lucie Aubrac," p. Male resistants led a double life too not because they were men, but because clandestinity was essential for survival and the success of their missions. A case in point: Raymond Aubrac, her husband, who Lucie rescued many times from the grasp of the Gestapo.
Shearings of women at the Liberation were an "enactment of a gender-based violence enacted by men on the bodies of women" Corran Laurens, "'La femme au Turban': les femmes tondues," p. Let this reviewer try her hand at gender idiom: putting male collaborators in front of a firing squad was a gender-based violence inflicted by men on the bodies of men.
Stating the obvious should not be confused with close conceptual analysis. Why were women sheared who were suspected of having collaborated with the Germans? Who am I? I used the Jewish family simply as an example, because I know that world. I think that similar worries exist among the Turks in Germany, and one sees this problem in England, Ireland, and Kosovo. But not exactly. They were not exiles; Hungary was their home. Jewish intellectuals—writers, journalists, publishers—played major roles in Hungarian cultural life, and the liberal professions were at times more than 50 percent Jewish.
For over forty years after the Second World War, Jews who had survived and had decided to remain in Hungary persuaded themselves with just a bit of effort that anti-Semitism, as well as Jewish identity, Crises of Memory and the Second World War were things of the past: Jewishness was irrelevant in communist Hungary.
Still, Hungarian nationalism and the anti-Semitism that has traditionally accompanied it were not overtly endorsed by the communist regime. Of course, the same was true of other discourses, including Zionist and anti—anti-Semitic ones. For one thing—leaving aside the hugely different world situation—the majority of Hungarians do not appear to be in favor of anti-Semitism; for another, the Jews of Hungary have reacted vigorously, on the whole, to the reemergence of anti-Semitism from under the rug.
Many assimilated Jewish intellectuals who had never spoken, or even, one surmises, thought much about their Jewish ancestry have in recent years begun writing or speaking about it. In , the Socialist government opened a Holocaust Memorial Center in Budapest, constructed at great expense, which aims to present public programs related to the history of Hungarian Jews. By a fascinating but not altogether surprising twist, the critics who most passionately attacked Sunshine in Hungary belong precisely to this group. A mere coincidence?
Another fate chose them, one they did not choose. To an American viewer, even a Jewish-American born in Hungary, this ending seems quite plausible. One can be Hungarian even with a Jewish name; pluralistic democracy can work in Hungary. In sum, a multiculturalist dream which I being of a postmodern persuasion am drawn to applaud.
The dream is tenuous, even as a dream. He is the baptized son of two Catholic converts, and he has thrown out all traces that might constitute a cultural archive. Photographs, letters, all the papers carefully saved by the faithful Catholic family servant during the war, even the famous black notebook that was at the origin of the family fortune—Ivan discards them all. The notebook falls to the ground, unseen and unrecognized by him, then joins the rest of the archive in the garbage van.
The past, it would seem, has nothing to offer, and the future is equally blank: Ivan has no progeny, as far as we can see. He is the last of the Sonnenscheins, alone in the city crowds. Since Ivan has shown not the slightest inclination for artistic expression up to this point circa , when he is more than thirty years old , this could be pure fantasy on his part. Of course, this still leaves open the question of how one can recreate a family history after discarding the family archive.
Does Ivan discard the archive the tool of historians in order to rely, as an artist, only on his personal memories and on the memories transmitted to him by his grandmother in fashioning his story? Must artistic creation reinvent the past, rather than documenting it? These questions will preoccupy us, in various ways, in the chapters that follow. In the past half-century, as the memory of the Holocaust has come to occupy an ever-larger space in public consciousness and in the academy, the study of trauma has become a subject for philosophers and literary and cultural critics as well as historians and psychologists.
The catastrophe of September 11, not to mention all the other catastrophes of the last decade has, of course, added yet another layer to contemporary trauma studies and studies of collective memory of atrocity.
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The cultural historian Dominick LaCapra proposed a few years ago to distinguish what he called structural trauma from historical trauma. LaCapra assumes the collective nature of historical trauma, without exploring how the collective is related to the individual; and also without distinguishing what we might call personal historical trauma from collective historical trauma.
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But such personal historical trauma differs from the abuse and dehumanization that children and adults suffered in concentration camps in that same year of ; one major difference is that in the former case the event is experienced by a single person at a given time and place, whereas in the latter it is experienced by thousands at a given time and place. Of course, no two people experience the same event in exactly the same way.
Collective historical trauma is experienced by individuals, one at a time, and this fact has important consequences for the concept of testimony. Every testimony is unique; it reports what the speaker has personally witnessed or lived through. Giorgio Agamben has noted that Latin has two words for witness: testis, whose primary meaning is spectator or bystander, and superstes, which also means spectator or bystander but primarily means survivor.
The witness who recounts his or her own story represents, in both senses of the word, multitudes who did not survive to testify or who may have survived but have remained speechless. This representative role places upon the survivor-witness of collective historical trauma an unusually heavy burden of responsibility. But when one is seeking to tell the truth about an extreme experience that was lived through by many others as well as by oneself, the responsibility is far greater than usual.
Even merely to err or misremember in such a case can be a source of shame or embarrassment. The writer I will discuss here is a professional writer; and he has written not one but a whole series of self-consciously literary testimonies about his experience in a Nazi concentration camp. Jorge Semprun, a Spaniard whose family left Spain at the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War although upper-middle-class and Catholic, the family was strongly Republican , was twenty years old in the fall of when he was arrested as a member of a foreign contingent of the French Resistance and deported some weeks later to Buchenwald.
He remained in Buchenwald for more than a year, from January until the liberation of the camp by Allied soldiers in April Before he entered the Resistance, Semprun was a philosophy student in Paris, well versed in Spanish, German, and French literature and harboring literary ambitions himself. In the early s, he began an autobiographical novel, Le grand voyage [The Long Voyage], published in The book won a major literary award the Formentor Prize and was translated into many languages.
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The narrator of Le grand voyage, emphasizing repeatedly that he is writing many years after the journey, exploits the same possibility. Furthermore, as he has stated both in these books and in published interviews, he takes certain liberties that could be called novelistic even in these testimonial works; for example, he gives real people false names and even invents certain characters. Each word is weighed so that it is impossible to put into question, on the pretext that such and such a detail is false, the veracity of my testimony as a whole.
What is its relation to memory, to repetition, and to trauma? One thing that makes Semprun such an interesting writer is that he himself has thought about these questions and has incorporated them, more or less explicitly, into his work. It will be useful, therefore, to consider one example in detail—but before that, we need to take a brief detour to consider psychoanalytic views about repetition and trauma.
He begins with a question: Why do victims of shell shock return persistently to the trauma of the war in their dreams?