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The Conflagration of CommunityFiction before and after Auschwitz$
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J. Hillis Miller

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780226527215

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2013

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226527239.001.0001

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Three Novels about the Shoah

Three Novels about the Shoah

(p.155) 5 Three Novels about the Shoah
The Conflagration of Community

J. Hillis Miller

University of Chicago Press

Thomas Keneally’s Schindler’s List, Ian McEwan’s Black Dogs, and Art Spiegelman’s Maus: A Survivor’s Tale are all discussed in this chapter in relation to the Shoah. It begins with the intended presumption that all these works bear witness in an honorable and honest way to the Shoah, or at least seek to give inheritance to the facts about it to readers. The chapter performs a “rhetorical reading” on the texts, studying the way this sort of reading operates its performative magic of testifying to the Holocaust. The question of community is also looked at with regards to these works. These works, however, are subject to the double obstacle, a complex “aporia”: the facts of the Holocaust might be inherently unthinkable and unspeakable by any means of representation and “aestheticizing” the Holocaust creates suspicion in that the more successful a novel, the further it may be from the actual experience of the Holocaust.

Keywords:   Thomas Keneally, Schindler’s List, Ian McEwan, Black Dogs, Art Spiegelman, Maus: A Survivor’s Tale, Shoah, rhetorical reading, aporia, testifying to the Holocaust

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