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Aversion and ErasureThe Fate of the Victim After the Holocaust$
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Carolyn J. Dean

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780801449444

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: May 2017

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9780801449444.001.0001

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Minimalism and Victim Testimony

Minimalism and Victim Testimony

(p.101) 3 Minimalism and Victim Testimony
Aversion and Erasure

Carolyn J. Dean

Cornell University Press

This chapter examines the writings of four authors—Saul Friedländer, Jan T. Gross, Lawrence Langer, and Berel Lang—in order to explore the uses of minimalism. Minimalism here is defined as any aesthetic form marked by antisentimental austerity. Minimalist narratives resist hyperbole in order to avoid the potential conversion of suffering into kitsch, voyeurism, or sublimity by following a dictum. It attempts to understand the interpretation of manifest rather than mastered suffering as a form of rhetorical and psychological excess (and thus of injury proclaimed as excessive). Both of Friedländer and Gross self-consciously seek to disrupt the reader's expectations of rhetorical constraint by (counterintuitively) hewing closely to the established methods of historiography. Langer and Lang are authors of two of the most eminent but problematic literary critical and philosophical arguments about Holocaust testimony and representation who, for all their differences, have much in common.

Keywords:   minimalism, suffering, Saul Friedländer, Jan T. Gross, Lawrence Langer, Berel Lang, Jews, Jewish victims, victimhood, Holocaust testimony

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