This introductory chapter provides an overview of the book's main themes. This book discusses the pervasive discourse about the inextricable relationship between suffering, traumatic suffering, and identity in mostly French and American debates about Jewish victims of the Holocaust. In particular, it inquires into four overlapping French and American debates about Jewish victims and victims' memory linked by their emphasis on suspicion and exaggeration regarding victims and their suffering: that Jewish victims are obsessively and pathologically remembered; that Jews who were not victims long to have been victims themselves; that credible Jewish victims represent their suffering ascetically; and that efforts to define what made the industrialized murder of Jewry different from other forms of mass murder somehow deny the universal experience of suffering. The book addresses these debates by treating the motifs of excess and suspicion as part of a complicated affective relationship to victims (distance, aversion, identification) that transcends context but is nonetheless fashioned by its location in particular times and places.
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