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Out of the Dark Room: Photography and Memory in Rachel Siffert's Holocaust Tales

  • Pividori, Cristina
Publication Date
Jan 01, 2008
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Photography plays a crucial role in Seiffert�s debut novel, The Dark Room (2001). Not only does it contribute significantly to rediscovering Germany�s traumatic past, but it also shares certain common responses with the text: the narrative of the self, the album aesthetics, memory, the anti-heroic and the notion of open work. When applied to Seiffert�s novel, these categories allow not only for new insights into the representation of subjectivities but also for several possible textual readings. This study focuses on Seiffert�s concern for the visual, which lingers in a liminal zone between history and memory and reflects a post-Holocaust crisis of representation. The writer rejects the value of using history and documentary photography to handle German Holocaust memory and finds alternative representational approaches to dealing with it in her text. Particular attention is given to the fragmentation of time and space, the self as part of the narrative, the uncovering of unconscious impulses through the visual, the protagonists as anti-heroes, the novel as open work and, most importantly, the concept of post-memory, introduced in the representation of history, documentary photography and family portraits through the critical use of traumatic realism.

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