Tracing memory : representation and the Auschwitz experience in Charlotte Delbo's Auschwitz et après

Master Thesis


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University of Cape Town

This study aims to examine the ways in which memory is represented in Auschwitz survivor, Charlotte Delbo's literary trilogy, Auschwitz et Apres, (Auschwitz and After) (1970a;1970b;1971). Its examination of memory is premised on the understanding of survivor narrative as testimonial narrative and testimony as the telling of the memory of historical events which strain or exceed conventional frameworks of representation. As such, the aim of this study is to demonstrate the way that representations of memory of a limit-experience problematise the certainty of its own testimonial transmission. By attempting to theorise the dynamics of narrating personal memory and then by analysing key extracts in each volume of the trilogy, this examination attempts to demonstrate how the event of the Holocaust, the difficulty of being a survivor and an unwilling reception of the survivor's story are collectively implicated in the way that memory contests its own representation. By examining the discontinuities of memory, this study intends to show how, in very different ways, the silences and ruptures of memory which are produced in these readings are a remembering of a different form. Bibliography: pages 138-150.