By Gina Herrmann Ofelia Ferran
Proposing the 1st English-language number of essays on Jorge Semprun, this quantity explores the lifestyles and paintings of the Spanish Holocaust survivor, writer, and political activist. Essays discover his cultural creation in all its manifestations, together with the function of testimony and fiction in representations of the Holocaust.
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Featuring the 1st English-language choice of essays on Jorge Semprun, this quantity explores the lifestyles and paintings of the Spanish Holocaust survivor, writer, and political activist. Essays discover his cultural creation in all its manifestations, together with the function of testimony and fiction in representations of the Holocaust.
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Extra resources for A Critical Companion to Jorge Semprún: Buchenwald, Before and After
L’affaire Dreyfus. Dir. Yves Boisset. Made for French television drama about the Dreyfus affair (1894–1906). 1997. K. Screenplay with Alexandre Arcady and Antoine Lacomblez. Dir. Alexandre Arcady. A French police inspector investigates the killing of his friend and second-hand goods dealer Joseph Katz, allegedly a Holocaust survivor. 2008. Ah, c’ était ça la vie. Screenplay with Franck Appréderis. Dir. Franck Appréderis. Two-part TV film, based on Semprún’s life. The story of Eduardo, a young Catalan communist exile in 1950s Paris, as he prepares a clandestine mission to Spain.
Furthermore, Semprún looks at the Holocaust within the frame of “all great historical experiences,” claiming that the difficulties in retelling this experience are akin to the ability to communicate the experience of catastrophes in other times or places. Finally, his now famous assertion that “only the artifice of a masterly narrative will prove capable of conveying some of the truth of such testimony” goes to the heart of the Semprunian approach to testimony, one that rests on the paradox of the need for literary artifice to transmit something of the truth of the historical experience of the camp.
In this case, it is Judith and Holofernes (c. 1611–12) by Italian artist Artemisia Gentileschi (1593–1656), whose depiction of explicit violence and inversion of traditional gender roles are tightly woven into the plot. Semprún has explained his predilection for creating doubles of himself in his novels. It arises as a result of his years in clandestinity, having to always pretend to be someone else: “I observed myself as my own double—not as an actor, but as a witness of myself” (Zanganeh). He has further said that when he kills off his alter-egos, he ensures his own survival by casting off unbearable or unattractive aspects of his personal past, which has allowed him to “ir envejeciendo, mantenerme ligero de equipaje, más dispuesto a afrontar los problemas y los peligros de la vida” (age well, travel light, and be better able confront the problems and dangers of life) (“El paso” 105–6).
A Critical Companion to Jorge Semprún: Buchenwald, Before and After by Gina Herrmann Ofelia Ferran