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Jorge Semprún

Memory’s Long Voyage


Daniela Omlor

Jorge Semprún is a leading writer from the first generation of Spanish Civil War exiles, yet studies of his work have often focused solely on his literary testimony to the concentration camps and his political activities. Although Semprún’s work derives from his incarceration in Buchenwald and his expulsion from the Spanish Communist Party in 1964, limiting the discussion of his works to the autobiographical details or to the realm of Holocaust studies is reductive. The responses by many influential writers to his recent death highlight that the significance of Semprún’s work goes beyond the testimony of historical events. His self-identification as a Spanish exile has often been neglected and there is no comprehensive study of his works available in English. This book provides a global view of his œuvre and extends literary analysis to texts that have received little critical attention. The author investigates the role played by memory in some of Semprún’s works, drawing on current debates in the field of memory studies. A detailed analysis of these works allows related concepts, such as exile and nostalgia, the Holocaust, the interplay between memory and writing, politics and collective memory, and postmemory and identity, to be examined and discussed.


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Introduction – Memory, Literature and the Self 1 Chapter 1 Childhood, Exile and Nostalgia in L’Algarabie, Adieu, vive clarté… and Veinte años y un día 33 Chapter 2 The Importance of Guilt and Testimony for the Evocation of the Holocaust in Le Grand Voyage, Quel beau dimanche! and Le Mort qu’il faut 73 Chapter 3 Memory and Writing in L’Évanouissement and L’Écriture ou la vie 105 Chapter 4 The Memory of Politics and the Politics of Memory: Autobiografía de Federico Sánchez and Netchaïev est de retour 139 Chapter 5 Memory and Identity in La Deuxième Mort de Ramón Mercader and La Montagne blanche 173 Conclusion 205 Bibliography 213 Index 227

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