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The Holocaust Object in Polish and Polish-Jewish Culture by Boena Shallcross

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By Boena Shallcross

In stark distinction to the common preoccupation with the wartime looting of useful artworks, Bo ena Shallcross specializes in the which means of standard objects--pots, eyeglasses, sneakers, garments, kitchen utensils--tangible vestiges of a once-lived truth, which she reads right here as cultural texts. Shallcross delineates the ways that Holocaust gadgets are represented in Polish and Polish-Jewish texts written in the course of or almost immediately after international struggle II. those representational recommendations are distilled from the writings of Zuzanna Ginczanka, W adys aw Szlengel, Zofia Na kowska, Czes aw Mi osz, Jerzy Andrzejewski, and Tadeusz Borowski. Combining shut readings of chosen texts with severe interrogations of quite a lot of philosophical and theoretical techniques to the character of subject, Shallcross's examine broadens the present discourse at the Holocaust via embracing humble and neglected fabric items as they have been perceived through writers of that time.

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Extra resources for The Holocaust Object in Polish and Polish-Jewish Culture

Sample text

Doctrinal purity aside, the blood, the body’s essence, spilled and mixed with feathers, could bring also to mind another religious offering: the consubstantiation of bread and wine in the Eucharist. So visualized, the concept strikes us as foreign to the Jewish subject of the poem. And yet it is not. Ginczanka’s entire education, her readings, and her circle of friends informed her as an assimilated person. This identity is reflected in her poetry, which indicates how eclectic her cultural background was.

In Szlengel’s “Top Hat,” despite the elegance with which he projects his interiority as something heavily (in)vested in exterior fashion, we must deal with the brutality of a suicide in which the trigger is pulled by another person. For this reason, I would rather treat this act as “self-murder,” on the grounds that it gestures toward two opposite types of death: suicide and murder. Being both suicide and murder—and yet neither of them exclusively—“self-murder” falls between these two categories.

In contrast, Szlengel appropriated the characteristic features of the still life to narrate an impoverished world in which lives were disrupted and destroyed. 12 (“Things”; Szlengel 1977, 127) Any Dutch still life that portrays the disorder of, for example, a table after a feast or an interior after an excessively jubilant night13 would share some of its aspects with the images of objects portrayed by Szlengel: a half-empty glass, an open book, flatware tossed away. Obviously, the lack of human presence within the space of Szlengel’s still lifes connotes a different preposterous history of these images, to refer to Mieke Bal’s concept, encompassing the violation of normalcy of a domestic abode that has been destroyed and whose inhabitants have just embarked on their last journey.

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