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By Frieda W. Aaron

This booklet is a pioneering examine of Yiddish and Polish-Jewish focus camp and ghetto poetry. It finds the influence of the immediacy of expertise as a formative impact on conception, reaction, and literary mind's eye, arguing that literature that's contemporaneous with unfolding occasions bargains perceptions assorted from these provided after the fact.

Documented here's the emergence of poetry because the dominant literary shape and fastest response to the atrocities. The authors indicates that the challenge of the poets was once to supply testimony to their epoch, to talk for themselves and if you happen to perished. For the Jews within the condemned global, this poetry used to be a motor vehicle of cultural sustenance, a way of asserting conventional values, and an expression of ethical defiance that frequently stored the spirit of the readers from dying.
The explication of the poetry (which has been translated by means of the writer) supply demanding implications for the sector of serious concept, together with shifts in literary practices--prompted by means of the growing to be atrocities--that display a spectrum of advanced experimental techniques.

"...this publication has singular significance as a examine of poetry with regards to the Holocaust...[and] actual advantage as a source within the burgeoning box of serious idea typically, poetics in particular."--Terrence Des Pres

"...a uncommon contribution to Holocaust scholarship."--Irving Halperin

"...it is likely one of the most sensible works I ever learn at the subject..."--Miriam Novitch

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Additional resources for Bearing the Unbearable: Yiddish and Polish Poetry in the Ghettos and Concentration Camps (SUNY Series in Modern Jewish Literature & Culture)

Sample text

In Szlengel's world their catastrophic vision was a prophecy fulfilled. Yet when Szlengel wrote his early poem "Telephone," he probably envisioned, like the rest of the incredulous world, neither the savagery nor the extent of the tragedy that was to come. A long poem (twenty-four stanzas of four lines each with an uneven rhyme schemel, "Telefon," like all Szlengel's ghetto poetry, is marked by "unpoetic" language. From the very beginning of his incarceration in the Warsaw ghetto and his determination to record events, Szlengel apparently had the prescience to realize that he was writing his "documentary poems" (wierszedokumentyl, as he called them, for and about the dying and the 22 0 Bearing the Unbearable dead.

As Ruth Wisse writes: Even before the war he had determined that the failure of humanity could not alter the basic criterion of art. In the living hell that followed, the uncorruptible standards of the good poem became, for Sutzkever, the touchstone of a former, higher sanity and a psychological means of self-protection against ignominy and despair. Even beyond this, he seems to have developed a belief in the mystical power of art to save, literally save the good singer from death. 16 In a world gone up in smoke, the poet refused to surrender the thing one would expect he needed least.

The world for which the poet grieves and the vehicle of his mourning reflect each other in a complementary relationship of solitary anguish and an isolated world. Significantly, the lamentation for the vanished world, the poem itself, is the poet's temporary verbal shelter. Much like Szlengel's, Sutzkever's memory is a defense against psychic and spiritual disintegration. " This feminine image resembles the Shekhina,15 the feminine emanation of the divine, who was alleged to have shared in Israel's exile and suffering (Megillah 29a).

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