Advertisement

“No Redress but Memory”: Holocaust Representation and Memorialization in E.L. Doctorow’s City of God

  • María Ferrández San Miguel
Chapter

Abstract

Published in 2000, City of God is one of E.L. Doctorow’s most ambitious, complex and enigmatic novels. It revolves around the possibility of reconciliation between Judeo-Christian ethics and twentieth-century brutality, of which the Holocaust is presented as a particularly extreme example. The main purpose of this chapter is to pinpoint the nature of the novel’s engagement with the Holocaust and its ideological implications. With this in mind, the novel’s self-conscious discussion of Holocaust representation becomes a key focus of inquiry. The author’s motivations for attempting to represent its fathomless horror are also explored, bearing in mind his Jewish American background. The chapter relies on Rothberg’s theorization of traumatic realism and Hirsch’s notion of postmemory in its broader understanding.

Keywords

E.L. Doctorow City of God Holocaust representation Postmemory Traumatic realism 

Bibliographical References

  1. Appelfeld, Aharon. 1988. “After the Holocaust.” In Writing and the Holocaust, edited by Berel Lang, 83–92. New York: Holmes and Meier.Google Scholar
  2. Arendt, Hannah. 1958. The Origins of Totalitarianism, 2nd edn. Cleveland: The World Publishing Company.Google Scholar
  3. Bawer, Bruce. 2000. “The Faith of E.L. Doctorow.” The Hudson Review 53 (3): 391–402.Google Scholar
  4. Collado Rodríguez, Francisco. 2002. “The Profane Becomes Sacred: Escaping Eclecticism in Doctorow’s City of God.” Atlantis 24 (2): 59–70.Google Scholar
  5. Doctorow, E.L. (1977) 1993. “False Documents.” Jack London, Hemingway, and the Constitution: Selected Essays 1977–1992, 149–64. New York: Random House.Google Scholar
  6. ———. 1997. “Heist.” New Yorker, 21 April: 82.Google Scholar
  7. ———. 2004. Reporting the Universe. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  8. ———. [2000] 2006. City of God. London: Abacus.Google Scholar
  9. ———. 2011. All the Time in the World. London: Little Brown.Google Scholar
  10. Eichelberger, Julia. 2005. “Spiritual Regeneration in E.L. Doctorow’s ‘Heist’ and City of God.” Studies in American Jewish Literature 24 (Revisioning American Jewish Literature: Yesterday and Today and Tomorrow): 82–94.Google Scholar
  11. Fanon, Franz. 1990. The Wretched of the Earth, translated by Constance Farrignton. London: Penguin.Google Scholar
  12. Farrell, Kirby. 1998. Posttraumatic Culture: Injury and Interpretation in the Nineties. Baltimore, MD, and London: Johns Hopkins University Press.Google Scholar
  13. Hirsch, Marianne. 1996. “Past Lives: Postmemories in Exile.” Poetics Today 17 (4): 659–686.Google Scholar
  14. ———. 1997. Family Frames: Photography, Narrative, and Postmemory. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  15. ———. 2001. “Surviving Images: Holocaust Photographs and the Work of Postmemory.” The Yale Journal of Criticism 14 (1): 5–38.Google Scholar
  16. Howe, Irving. 1988. “Writing and the Holocaust.” In Writing and the Holocaust, edited by Berel Lang, 175–99. New York: Holmes and Meier.Google Scholar
  17. Jewish Virtual Library: Everything you Need to Know from Anti-Semitism to Zionism. 2015. “Alfred Ronsenberg.” https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/ jsource/Holocaust/Rosenberg1.html. Accessed 12 April 2016.
  18. Kramer, Michael P. and Hana Wirth-Nesher. 2003. “Introduction.” In The Cambridge Companion to Jewish American Literature, edited by Michael P. Kramer and Hana Wirth-Nesher, 1–11. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  19. Langer, Lawrence. 1988. “Interpreting Survivor Testimony.” In Writing and the Holocaust, edited by Berel Lang, 26–40. New York: Holmes and Meier.Google Scholar
  20. ———. 1991. Holocaust Testimonies: The Ruins of Memory. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
  21. Levi, Primo. 1996. Survival in Auschwitz: The Nazi Assault on Humanity, translated by Stuart Woolf. New York: Simon and Schuster.Google Scholar
  22. Luckhurst, Roger. 2008. The Trauma Question. London and New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  23. Miller Budick, Emily. 2003. “The Holocaust in the Jewish American Literary Imagination.” In The Cambridge Companion to Jewish American Literature, edited by Michael P. Kramer and Hana Wirth-Nesher, 212–30. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  24. Novick, Peter. 1999. The Holocaust in American Life. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.Google Scholar
  25. O’Daly, Gerard. 2009. Augustine’s City of God: A Reader’s Guide. Oxford: Clarendon.Google Scholar
  26. Ozick, Cynthia. 1988. “Roundtable Discussion.” In Writing and the Holocaust, edited by Berel Lang, 271–90. New York: Holmes and Meier.Google Scholar
  27. Rothberg, Michael. 2000. Traumatic Realism: The Demands of Holocaust Representation. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.Google Scholar
  28. Seeskin, Kenneth. 1988. “Coming to Terms with Failure: A Philosophical Dilemma.” In Writing and the Holocaust, edited by Berel Lang, 110–21. New York: Holmes and Meier.Google Scholar
  29. Seltzer, Mark. 1997. “Wound Culture: Trauma in the Pathological Public Sphere.” October 80: 3–26.Google Scholar
  30. Shechner, Mark. 1979. “Jewish Writers.” In Harvard Guide to Contemporary American Writing, edited by Daniel Hoffman, 191–239. Cambridge, MA, and London: Belknap Press of Harvard University.Google Scholar
  31. Sicher, Efrain. 2005. The Holocaust Novel. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  32. Steiner, George. 1988. “The Long Life of Metaphor: An Approach to the ‘Shoah.’” In Writing and the Holocaust, edited by Berel Lang, 154–71. New York: Holmes and Meier.Google Scholar
  33. Tal, Kali. 1996. Worlds of Hurt: Reading the Literatures of Trauma. Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  34. Tory, Avraham and Martin Gilber, editors. 1991. Surviving the Holocaust: The Kovno Ghetto Diary. London: Pimlico.Google Scholar
  35. Vice, Sue. 2000. Holocaust Fiction. London and New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  36. Walker Bergström, Catharine. 2010. Intuition of an Infinite Obligation: Narrative Ethics and Postmodern Gnostics in the Fiction of E. L. Doctorow. Frankfurt: Peter Lang.Google Scholar
  37. Wilde, Lawrence. 2006. “The Search for Reconciliation in E.L. Doctorow’s City of God.” Religion and the Arts 10 (3): 391–405.Google Scholar
  38. Wittgenstein, Luwig. 1988. Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, translated by David F. Pears and Brian F. McGuinness; introduction by Bertrand Russell. London: Routledge.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of ZaragozaZaragozaSpain

Personalised recommendations