Abraham Sutzkever’s Holocaust Narratives: A Poetics of Resistance – University of Copenhagen

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Abraham Sutzkever’s Holocaust Narratives: A Poetics of Resistance

Open Lecture by Jan Schwarz, Lund University

This lecture will delineate Abraham Sutzkever’s (1913-2010) poetics of resistance in his narrative art. Sutzkever’s Holocaust narratives are the prose of a Yiddish master poet, rich in metaphors, neologisms and an introspective style. The short descriptions (kurtse bashraybungen) in Griner akvarium (Green Aquarium) were published in 1953-1954 in the journal Di goldene keyt. In 1970, Sutzkever began to publish longer Holocaust stories collected in the volume Meshiekhs togbukh (Messiah’s Diary) followed by the 1989 volume Di nevue fun shvartsapln (The Prophecy of the Pupils). The lecture will show how the concept of Kiddush ha-hayim (“the sanctification of life”) functions as the main trope of Sutzkever’s prose fiction.

Dr. Jan Schwarz is Associate Professor of Yiddish Studies at Lund University, Sweden. Between 2003 and 2011, he was Senior Lecturer at University of Chicago. He is the author  of two scholarly monographs about Yiddish culture and literature: Imagining Lives: Autobiographical Fiction of Yiddish Writers (2005) and Survivors and Exiles: Yiddish Culture after the Holocaust (2015). Moreover, he has translated Abraham Sutzkever’s Green Aquarium: Stories from the Jerusalem of Lithuania (2017) and Scholem-Aleichem’s Tevye the Dairyman (2009) into Danish and is the editor of The Golden Chain: An Anthology of Modern Yiddish Literature (1994). Currently, he is working on a project which has been funded by the Swedish Research Council (2014-2016): The Bilingual Works of Isaac Bashevis Singer: Novels, Translations, World Literature, and he is editing a bilingual volume (Yiddish/English) entitled I.B. Singer, In the World of Chaos: Early Writings.

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