This title on the legacy of the Holocaust asks what insights can be carried from the past to the newly problematic present, and urges the need to transform potent family stories into a fully-formed understanding of a forbidding history.
As the Holocaust recedes from us in time, the guardianship of its legacy is being passed on from its survivors and witnesses to the generation after. How should we, in turn, convey its knowledge to others? What are the effects of a traumatic past on its inheritors, and the second generation's responsibilities to its received memories? In this meditation on the long aftermath of atrocity, Eva Hoffman probes these questions through personal reflections and through broader explorations of the historical, psychological and moral implications of the second-generation experience. She examines the subterranean processes through which private memories of suffering are transmitted, and the more wilful stratagems of collective memory. She traces the second-generation's trajectory from childhood intimations of horror, through its struggles between allegiance and autonomy, and its complex transactions with children of perpetrators. As she guides us through the poignant juncture at which living memory must be relinquished, she asks what insights can be carried from the past to the newly problematic present, and urges the need to transform potent family stories into a fully-informed understanding.
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Eva Hoffman was born in Cracow, Poland, and emigrated to America at the age of thirteen. The recipient of the Guggenheim Fellowship, the Whiting Award and an award from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters, she currently lives in London.
After Such Knowledge by Eva Hoffman
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