Post-Holocaust Reconstructed Identities in Anne Michaels' "Fugitive Pieces" and W. G. Sebald's "Austerlitz"

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2009
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RAHIMY, Tina, ed.. Representation, Expression and Identity : Interdisciplinary Perspectives. Oxford: Inter Disciplinary Press, 2009, pp. 266-275. ISBN 978-1-904710-81-3
Zusammenfassung

This paper takes up a comparative view on individual identity as featured in three literary works that deal with traumatised Jewish youth in the aftermath of the Holocaust: Imre Kertesz’ Fateless (1992), Anne Michael’s Fugitive Pieces (1997), and W. G. Sebald’s Austerlitz (2002). As I intend to show, the trauma of the Holocaust forces an arbitrary process of identity deconstructionupon the juvenile characters’ incompletely developed selves, which triggers in their adult lives a need for self-reconstruction, essentially experienced against thoroughly altered cultural, historical and geographical backgrounds. These characters’ initial flight for their lives and concurrent transgression of various national borders, with all the tribulations that they entail, will be regarded as complex steps towards mapping a physical trajectory of inner change. Ultimately, this survival journey will be retraced and re-mapped in old age in an attempt to reconstruct, negotiate and reconcile with an original identity.
Indubitably, forceful migration engenders a break with former patterns of selfhood and generates a re-shifting of identity elements such as the cultural, ethnical, national, psychological and geographical. Particularly, post-war Jewishness differs from its pre-war analog through the change of emphasis onto the ethnic element, as opposed to other identity constituents. The prevalent prevailing ethnic factor is the lens through which these characters later perceive their rapidly changing time and space, while their mature interest for poetry, literary discourse and architecture expresses an inner need to assume and incorporate this change. Comparatively, this focus on ethnicity will be regarded against current views of plural identity affiliation and multiple membership, in an attempt to enquire into the extent to which these destinies strike an incipient balance between localism and cosmopolitanism, exclusion and inclusion, alterity and sameness.
My purpose is to explore the physical and emotional distance between the deconstructed and reconstructed types of Jewishness as embodied by these fictional characters, and to stress the uniqueness of their physical and mental path back to themselves.

Zusammenfassung in einer weiteren Sprache
Fachgebiet (DDC)
800 Literatur, Rhetorik, Literaturwissenschaft
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Anne Michael, Fugitive Pieces, W.G.Sebald, Austerlitz, postmemory, post-Holocaust identity, transgenerational trauma, affect and trauma
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Zitieren
ISO 690BOTEZ, Catalina, 2009. Post-Holocaust Reconstructed Identities in Anne Michaels' "Fugitive Pieces" and W. G. Sebald's "Austerlitz". In: RAHIMY, Tina, ed.. Representation, Expression and Identity : Interdisciplinary Perspectives. Oxford: Inter Disciplinary Press, 2009, pp. 266-275. ISBN 978-1-904710-81-3
BibTex
@incollection{Botez2009PostH-20690,
  year={2009},
  title={Post-Holocaust Reconstructed Identities in Anne Michaels' "Fugitive Pieces" and W. G. Sebald's "Austerlitz"},
  isbn={978-1-904710-81-3},
  publisher={Inter Disciplinary Press},
  address={Oxford},
  booktitle={Representation, Expression and Identity : Interdisciplinary Perspectives},
  pages={266--275},
  editor={Rahimy, Tina},
  author={Botez, Catalina}
}
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