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Religions 2012, 3(2), 424-440; doi:10.3390/rel3020424
Article

Haunted Encounters: Exile and Holocaust Literature in German and Austrian Post-war Culture

School of Languages and Linguistics, The University of Melbourne, Parkville 3010 VIC, Australia
Received: 2 May 2012 / Revised: 11 May 2012 / Accepted: 12 May 2012 / Published: 14 May 2012
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Abstract

In an essay titled ‘The Exiled Tongue’ (2002), Nobel Prize winner Imre Kertész develops a genealogy of Holocaust and émigré writing, in which the German language plays an important, albeit contradictory, role. While the German language signified intellectual independence and freedom of self-definition (against one’s roots) for Kertész before the Holocaust, he notes (based on his engagement with fellow writer Jean Améry) that writing in German created severe difficulties in the post-war era. Using the examples of Hilde Spiel and Friedrich Torberg, this article explores this notion and asks how the loss of language experienced by Holocaust survivors impacted on these two Austrian-Jewish writers. The article argues that, while the works of Spiel and Torberg are haunted by the Shoah, the two writers do not write in the post-Auschwitz language that Kertész delineates in his essays, but are instead shaped by the exile experience of both writers. At the same time though, Kertész’ concept seems to be haunted by exile, as his reception of Jean Améry’s works, which form the basis of his linguistic genealogies, shows an inability to integrate the experience of exile.
Keywords: Friedrich Torberg; Hilde Spiel; Jean Améry; Imre Kertész; exile literature; post-war era; Auschwitz; Holocaust literature Friedrich Torberg; Hilde Spiel; Jean Améry; Imre Kertész; exile literature; post-war era; Auschwitz; Holocaust literature
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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Lang, B. Haunted Encounters: Exile and Holocaust Literature in German and Austrian Post-war Culture. Religions 2012, 3, 424-440.

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