Living in the Presence of an Absence. The Puzzling Holocaust Legacy of the American Post-Holocaust Generation
AbstractThis article deals with second-generation Holocaust literature, i.e. writings belonging to the generation born after the Holocaust and grown up in its aftermath. Specifically I dwell on two considerably different Jewish-American novels, which reflect two different natures of Holocaust inheritance and, hence, two distinct paths, featuring second-generation Holocaust literature: Thane Rosenbaum’s Second-Hand Smoke (1999) and Irene Dische’s Pious Secrets (1991). My understanding of these narratives is grounded in the cultural distinction between particularist and universalist second-generation Holocaust writers outlined by Alan Berger in Children of Job, American Second-Generation Witnesses to the Holocaust (1997). The argument that I present interprets Rosenbaum’s novel as a particularist depiction of the Holocaust legacy, whereas Dische’s book is associated to a universalist perspective towards this event and its inheritance.
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