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Jews and Non-Jews: Memories and Interactions from the Perspective of Cultural Studies

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Edited By Lucyna Aleksandrowicz-Pędich and Jacek Partyka

The book adds new studies of memories and interactions between Jews and non-Jews to the historical and cultural research on this topic. It gathers in one volume the results of work by scholars from several countries, while the topics of the articles cover various disciplines: history, sociology, psychology, literary and language studies. The specific themes refer to the cultures and interactions with non-Jews in places such as Kiev, Vienna, Ireland, Springfield, Sosúa as well as reflect upon interactions in literary texts by Czesław Milosz and other Polish writers, some contemporary Jewish-American novelists and South American writers. Finally there are texts referring to the experience of the Holocaust and the post-Holocaust trauma as well as German-Israeli and Polish-Jewish relations and heritage.
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The Mother-Daughter Dyad in Bożena Keff’s On Mother and the Fatherland

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In a poignant farewell scene from Jonathan Safran Foer’s Everything is Illuminated the character of Augustine’s sister – Lista – poses a question which is crucial to the understanding of the post-Holocaust experience and literature, namely: “Is the war over?” (193) This query of manifold interpretations among many implies the impossibility of total liberation from war experiences. It echoes Alvin Rosenfeld’s apprehension, contained in his essay “Primo Levi: The Survivor as Victim”, that “Levi’s violent end raises once again the possibility that the Nazi crimes might continue to claim victims decades after Nazism itself had been defeated” (187). The psychological burden of personal torture, the experience of collective persecution, the witnessing of Nazi atrocities, as well as the act of surviving made the post war life of many a Jew a constant agony, frequently resulting in suicide (Rosenfeld 187). Therefore, for the children of Holocaust survivor parents like Art Spiegelman, whose Maus was a pivotal point of reference for On Mother and the Fatherland, and for Bożena Keff, the war will never be over. The trauma of War World II left their parents marred, and even though they made an effort to progress with their lives – i.e. have families and bear children – the specter of the Holocaust constantly loomed at the back of their heads, thus, indirectly affecting the lives of their offspring. The author herself confirms the autobiographical nature of the text under consideration: “I am not denying that my mother was the template here, and some passages...

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