This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
D. G. Myers
1. Sophie’s Place Sophie’s Choice has been ranked among the 100 best novels of the twentieth century (Lewis E1). Though it is a striking eﬀort to write a modern tragedy, its historical importance owes little or nothing to its literary quality. William Styron’s novel was a pioneering dissent on the Holocaust, a forceful challenge to prevailing opinion. Belonging to the second wave of Holocaust ﬁction in America, it was published in 1979, the same year as Philip Roth’s Ghost Writer and Leslie Epstein’s King of the Jews. Just the year before, NBC’s miniseries Holocaust reached an audience of 120 million and Jimmy Carter also established the President’s Commission on the Holocaust, which would lead to the US Holocaust Memorial Museum. According to the museum’s historian, these highly public events of 1978 “signaled that the Holocaust had moved not only from the periphery to the center of American Jewish consciousness, but to the center of national consciousness as well” (Linenthal 12). If the term had not been corrupted by neo-Nazis who deny the Holocaust, Sophie’s Choice—along with The Ghost Writer and The King of the Jews—might appropriately be labeled revisionist accounts. Together they express irritation with the uncritical public reception of the Holocaust, which propelled its movement to the heart of ´ the culture in the late 1970s. Each novel sets out to epater les ´ pietistes. Roth’s fantasy that Anne Frank survived the war to become a creative writing student in America dispels the aura of sanctity surrounding Hitler’s most famous victim; Epstein’s portrait of a ghetto dictator punctures the assumption that under the Nazis every Jew was an innocent victim; and Styron’s novel
2001 OXFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS AMERICAN LITERARY HISTORY
Jews Without Memory
about a Polish Catholic woman who survived Auschwitz only to die tragically in America puts under interrogation the claim that the Holocaust was a uniquely Jewish catastrophe. Styron aims to show that some Christians (in his phrase) “suﬀered as much as any Jew” (237).1 Of these Sophie’s Choice is the most important, because it is the most explicitly ideological. Styron does not merely dissent from the orthodoxy of the “uniqueness thesis” (as it has come to be known); he delivers an elenchus, a strong rereading of the Holocaust which goes beyond challenging the predominant view to reverse it. Nor does Styron attack an ideology made of straw. The common opinion of most Jewish scholars and writers, including Yehuda Bauer, Arthur A. Cohen, Lucy S. Dawidowicz, Emil Fackenheim, Sir Martin Gilbert, Daniel Jonah Goldhagen, Steven T. Katz, Lawrence L. Langer, Deborah E. Lipstadt, and Cynthia Ozick, is that the Holocaust was unique.2 And in two ways. It was distinguished by the Nazi intention of totally eradicating the Jewish people, who were in this respect its unique victims—the purpose and whole reason for the Holocaust—and historically it was without precedent, without sequel. As Otto Friedrich says in the preface to his Kingdom of Auschwitz (1994), the very title of which suggests the uniqueness of the death camp, it was “the worst that had ever happened” (viii). Styron vigorously criticizes Jewish scholars and writers for this “narrow” and speciﬁcally Jewish interpretation. In its stead he advances a universalist, even metaphysical interpretation, understanding the Holocaust as the embodiment of absolute evil, which threatened humanity as a whole. The Jews may have been (in his phrase) the “victims of victims,” but they were not the only victims of Nazi evil. To claim exclusive victimhood is to deny and even add to other peoples’ suﬀering. The lesson of the Holocaust is that uniqueness is victimization, whether practiced by Germans or Jews. To remember the Holocaust as a uniquely Jewish catastrophe is to be Jews without memory. Although it is usually classiﬁed as a Holocaust novel, then, Sophie’s Choice is not about the Holocaust as such. Its subject is the ideological representation of the Holocaust. That the tragic universalism it oﬀers as an alternative to Jewish uniqueness is just as ideological—that Styron appropriates the Holocaust for his own ideological purposes or is even, as Edward Alexander has warned, “stealing the Holocaust from the Jews who were its victims” (195)—is beside the question. What Bakhtin calls the “free appropriation and assimilation of the word” is dialectically opposed to the discourse of political authority, which “demands our unconditional allegiance” (343). Sophie’s Choice is an act of
American Literary History
open political resistance. Small wonder that it anticipated—and perhaps even inspired—a more organized opposition to the uniqueness thesis. Following Styron’s lead, some scholars have recently begun to concentrate ﬁre upon it. The American Indian scholar Ward Churchill, the political scientist Norman G. Finkelstein, and the historians Albert S. Lindemann and Peter Novick have all attacked it in recent books.3 This group of scholars— I very nearly called it a party—is united by its refusal to declare unconditional allegiance to the uniqueness thesis. The historian David E. Stannard speaks for the group when he associates the thesis with Holocaust denial, calling it “the hegemonic product of many years of strenuous intellectual labor by a handful of Jewish scholars and writers who have dedicated much if not all of their professional lives to the advancement of this exclusivist idea.” Not only is the Jewish interpretation of the Holocaust “demonstrably erroneous,” Stannard says, but what is worse, “the larger thesis it fraudulently advances is racist and violenceprovoking” (167). Here too Styron had anticipated the later opposition. In large measure Sophie’s Choice is a polemic against the Jewish hegemony. Styron’s Jews are represented as having overlooked or misunderstood the truth about the Holocaust from the ﬁrst months after liberation down at least to the late 1960s, when Jewish scholars and writers began to publish work that the novel faults for failing to make more than “ﬂeeting reference to the vast multitudes of non-Jews . . . who were swallowed up in the apparatus of the camps” (237). An entire generation is indicted upon the charge of advancing the “racist and violenceprovoking” ideology of Jewish exclusivism. The Jews stand accused of collective amnesia, eﬀacing the memory of other peoples’ suﬀering. Sophie’s place in American literary history is assured by its early and powerful account of the ideological positioning which has since become a necessary preamble to any discussion of the Holocaust. Styron’s novel makes the case both against Jewish exclusivism and for the universalism of oppression and suﬀering. And politically this is a Left-liberal perspective. When the Right criticizes Holocaust thinking, as in Gabriel Schoenfeld’s 1998 attack on “Holocaustology” in Commentary, it is more likely to complain that “the inescapable truth that simply to be Jewish was to be marked for death” is being obscured by “cutting-edge scholarship” which emphasizes instead the victims’ gender (46).4 Although it is not scholarship, and though it does not emphasize the title character’s gender, Sophie’s Choice is similar to recent feminist thought in shifting attention away from the Jews and onto Hitler’s other victims. Some such shift is the deﬁning char-
Jews Without Memory
Whether in the Enlightenment or the last years of the twentieth century, liberal antiJudaism serves the power of the modern state by undermining the political autonomy of the Jewish people and the unique history which constitutes them.
acteristic of Left-liberal representations of the Holocaust, whether they are written by Jewish feminists or ideological opponents of the Jewish ideology, including Styron. And though his thinking is derived from classical liberalism, Styron shares certain important presuppositions with the New Left. Among them is a disapproval of Jewish exclusivism. Sophie’s Choice has the additional advantage, then, of representing a fundamental principle that links the New Left to its origins in Enlightenment liberalism. Not only is it one of the basic liberal texts in recent American literature; it is perhaps the basic text on ethnic exclusivism. In this essay I shall examine Sophie’s Choice under the aspect of the Left-liberal case against Jewish exclusivism. Not to withhold my opinion, I shall argue that the case made by Styron and other writers entails a historical error, a naive hearkening back to ideology that has been put in question forever by the Holocaust. I shall call this ideology liberal anti-Judaism.5 In opposing Jewish exclusivism—in pleading for a more inclusive interpretation of the Holocaust—Styron and other opponents of the uniqueness thesis repeat the error of Enlightenment liberalism. Although they did not label it “racist and violence-provoking,” Enlightenment liberals also opposed Jewish exclusivism; for them it was superstitious, backward, and immoral, which amounts to the same thing. Whether in the Enlightenment or the last years of the twentieth century, liberal anti-Judaism serves the power of the modern state by undermining the political autonomy of the Jewish people and the unique history which constitutes them. Philosophical liberalism grasped that the Jews stood in the way of modernity, but failed to see that they also checked the expansionist ambitions of the modern state. State power requires the elimination of barriers to its spread; in clinging deﬁantly to autonomous institutions and a unique history, the Jews were fundamentally opposed to it. Small wonder the Third Reich sought to eliminate them. Despite its analysis of the complicity between modernity and state power, the New Left has failed to appreciate the Jews’ oppositional role in modernity, which reached a crisis in the Holocaust. Styron and other opponents of Jewish exclusivism revert to an ideology which is deeply embedded in modernity. What is “racist and violence-provoking” is not Jewish exclusivism but the demand that the Jews yield up their exclusivism. Enlightenment liberalism proposed to solve the Jewish problem by having the Jews divest themselves of their exclusivism and assimilate to modern society, but when Hitler rose to power in 1933 he condemned all of the Jews without exception, assimilated and exclusive alike. Styron and the New Left now propose that the Jews abandon the exclusivism of their col-
American Literary History
lective memory of the Holocaust, charging that to remember it as a uniquely Jewish catastrophe is to be without memory of other peoples’ suﬀering. But if Holocaust commemoration appears to create Jews without memory, the real reason (as I shall try to show) is that the ideology of liberal anti-Judaism constructs them as Jews without memory. And nowhere is the process by which this comes about more abundantly illustrated than in Sophie’s Choice.
2. Sophie’s Plan Styron ﬁrst announced his opposition to Jewish exclusivism in a New York Times op-ed piece ﬁve years before publishing Sophie’s Choice. Commenting upon a June 1974 International Symposium on the Holocaust held at New York’s Cathedral of St. John the Divine, Styron confessed that he was “puzzled” by the “overwhelming emphasis on anti-Semitism and Christian guilt.” 6 While allowing that “Jewish genocide was the main business of Auschwitz,” he went on to remind his readers that “at Auschwitz perished not only the Jews but at least one million souls who were not Jews.” It is essential to remember the huge number of non-Jewish dead, because to do otherwise is to take “a narrow view of the evil of Nazi totalitarianism,” which in turn is “to ignore the ecumenical nature of that evil.” The Nazis were far worse than anti-Semitic. They were also “anti-Christian,” because they were “anti-human. Anti-life.” The threat they posed to humanity “transcended” the threat they posed to the Jews (“Auschwitz” 303–04). Styron founds his argument upon a statistical premise, although it is diﬃcult to know where he got his ﬁgures. The most recent scholarly estimates are that at least 1.1 million were murdered at Auschwitz, about 90 percent of whom were Jews (see Piper). At the time Styron was writing, the “oﬃcial” number, ﬁrst established by a Soviet Extraordinary State Commission and then engraved on a memorial at Birkenau, was four million. One of his primary sources for Sophie’s Choice—the memoirs of Rudolf Hoss, commandant of Auschwitz—brags of killing three ¨ million. The principal English-language histories available to Styron at the time—Gerald Reitlinger’s Final Solution (1953) and Raul Hilberg’s Destruction of the European Jews (1961)—put the number much lower, between 800,000 and one million. None of these sources supports the claim that one million non-Jews perished at Auschwitz. The minor premise—Styron’s contention that the martyrol-
Jews Without Memory
ogy of Auschwitz is “ecumenical” rather than exclusively Jewish—is also open to challenge. Ozick immediately recognized as much, savaging her fellow novelist the next year in the Long Island University literary magazine Confrontation, although not on the ground of fact. Ozick accepted his death toll without comment, but ridiculed Styron’s observation that Auschwitz was antihuman. “[I]t is of course imperative to observe this,” she said, “because to assert that Auschwitz is ‘merely’ Jewish would in eﬀect raise doubts as to whether it is truly anti-human.” The universalist interpretation emphasizes what all human beings have in common, while the exclusivist interpretation diﬀerentiates human beings. But what all human beings have in common is their biology, and “if being a Jew is being only what is universal, then a Jew is no more than his organs . . . and then what matter cremation?” Human beings are diﬀerentiated by their culture—the ideas, expressions, and loyalties they cultivate. But the Jew as “a culture-bearing creature” is “invisible” to Styron. He is troubled by the view that the Jews were the principal target of Nazi terror because the word humanity is “more palatable” to him than the word Jew. Since both murderers and victims belonged to humanity, however, the use of this word blots out “speciﬁcally who did speciﬁcally what to speciﬁcally whom” (“Liberal’s Auschwitz” 149–53). Sophie’s Choice is Styron’s 500-page rebuttal. The novel revises and elaborates the interpretation of the Holocaust that Styron had ﬁrst advanced in the Times ﬁve years earlier. Abandoning his earlier claim that “at Auschwitz perished not only the Jews but at least one million souls who were not Jews,” Styron sets out to tell the story of one non-Jewish victim of Auschwitz. Sophie Zawistowska is a young Polish woman whose entire family, including her two children, was consumed by the Nazi ﬁre. Styron’s very decision to write a Holocaust novel about a nonJewish victim is a polemical thrust at the uniqueness thesis. “Although she was not Jewish,” he asserts in the novel, “[Sophie] had suﬀered as much as any Jew who had survived the same aﬄictions, and—as I think will be made plain—had in certain profound ways suﬀered more than most” (237). As will be made plain: with these words Styron announces the plan and motive of his novel, which is to show that a Pole was just as much a victim of Auschwitz as any Jew. Sophie is his evidence for the ecumenical nature of Nazi evil. Since he cannot produce evidence of one million victims of Auschwitz who were not Jews, however, and since the story of one Polish woman is not suﬃcient to prove that the Nazis’ genocidal hopes were pinned on more
American Literary History
than merely the Jews, Styron introduces a second and even more unsettling exhibit: the Jews’ own ignorance of the reality of Auschwitz and their willingness to lay claim to it to further their own ideological goals. He contrasts Sophie’s experience with the claims that are advanced on behalf of the Jews, because his ultimate purpose is not only to refute but also to exhibit the moral danger of the view, as stated by Ozick, that the Jews were not “an instance of the Nazi slaughter,” but “the purpose and whole reason for it.”
3. Sophie’s Position In the novel, Styron’s position on the Holocaust is most explicitly set forth by the “ﬁrebrand” Polish resistance ﬁghter Wanda, with the “transcendentally German surname, MuckHorch von Kretschmann.” After her husband and father are arrested and deported to Sachsenhausen, Sophie takes refuge with Wanda, although she consistently rebuﬀs Wanda’s appeals to join the resistance “in the name of humanity” (401–02). One night after a poor dinner of soup and sausage, they are visited by two leaders of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising who come for some Luger automatics stolen from the SS. Wanda and the Jews begin to discuss the war. She repeats something that had been said to her by another leader of the uprising, who had spoken to her of the Jews’ “precious heritage of suﬀering.” Wanda reacts contemptuously: “I despise the idea of suﬀering being precious. In this war everyone suﬀers—Jews, Poles, Gypsies, Russians, Czechs, Yugoslavs, all the others. Everyone’s a victim. The Jews are also the victims of victims, that’s the main diﬀerence. . . . The Nazis hate you the most . . . and you will suﬀer the most by far, but they’re not going to stop with the Jews. Do you think when they ﬁnish with you Jews they’re going to dust oﬀ their hands and stop murdering and make their peace with the world? You underestimate their evil if you have such a delusion. Because once they ﬁnish you oﬀ they’re going to come and get me” (518–19). Wanda’s last sentences allude to the well-known aphorism of Martin Niemoller, which encap¨ sules the universalist interpretation of the Holocaust in a moving cadence: “First they came for the Jews. I was silent. I was not a Jew. Then they came for the Communists. I was silent. I was not a Communist. Then they came for the trade unionists. I was silent. I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for me. There was no one left to speak for me” (qtd. in Encyclopedia
Jews Without Memory
3: 1061).7 By transferring it from a Lutheran churchman notorious for his anti-Semitic preaching to the mouth of a Polish resistance ﬁghter, Styron extracts Niemoller’s wisdom from ¨ its history and conceals its uneasiness with the Jews.8 Otherwise his rewriting of Niemoller would have been repellent. For ¨ in its insistent use of the second person, Wanda’s speech reads like a lecture to the Jews: you do not grasp the true nature of the Holocaust if you believe that extermination of the Jews was the purpose and whole reason for it. The Holocaust was not merely anti-Semitic; it was utterly evil. Its aims were universal and its origin was metaphysical. It was not anti-Jewish; it was antihuman, antilife. To the elegiac universalism of Niemoller’s ¨ aphorism, in other words, Styron adds a scolding antiexclusivism. By this means, Styron is able to position himself in the debate. He means to speak for “all the others,” all the non-Jews, for whom—if those like Ozick had their way—no one would dare to speak. Sophie’s Choice might be more accurately described as a ro` man a these than a historical novel, but among its theses is that the Jewish interpretation of history is fallacious. Styron is under some obligation, then, to show that Sophie’s Choice is itself grounded upon historical fact. In the Times he had spoken of a “ravaged survivor,” a “once devoutly Catholic Polish girl [he] knew many years ago” (“Auschwitz” 304). Sophie Zawistowska is obviously meant to be this girl, and Sophie’s Choice the imaginative recreation of her history. Moreover, the novel adopts the guise of autobiography—a kind of writing that belongs to historiography rather than memory (Collingwood 293). The opening pages promise ﬁdelity to historical time and place. Rather than tacking on names afterward, Styron begins by invoking Manhattan and Brooklyn. He writes in the ﬁrst person, which acts as a plight of his sincerity; his narrator speciﬁes the date (1947) and his age (22); he even describes the weather, that obdurate fact of nature which is introduced into conversation and story to establish the reality of the speaker’s circumstances. In addition to oﬀering a thinly veiled account of Styron’s literary beginnings, including the description of a ﬁrst novel that unmistakably evokes Lie Down in Darkness (1951), the narrator—Stingo, no last name—takes pains to drop the clue that in a US Marine Training Unit during the war (where “everything [was] alphabetical”) he bunked with Pete Strohmyer and Chuckie Stutz, just as anyone surnamed Styron would have (239). Besides, readers who know much about Styron will know that in 1947 he likewise was 22 and that his native state—just like the ﬁrst-person narrator’s—is Virginia.
American Literary History
What is more, Stingo/Styron claims expertise on the subject of the Holocaust. He refers to “entries into the historical account” by Elie Wiesel, Tadeusz Borowski, Olga Lengyel, Eugen Kogon, Bruno Bettelheim, et al., and quotes a generous selection of the literature, including Rudolf Hoss’s memoirs, George Stein¨ er’s critical essays, Richard Rubenstein’s post-Auschwitz theology, Jean-Francois Steiner’s ﬁctionalized account of the Treblinka ¸ revolt, and Hannah Arendt’s report on the Eichmann trial. It may be a little surprising that, except for Hoss’s memoirs, none ¨ of the sources that he quotes is a ﬁrsthand record. They seem not to be cited for the reason that James E. Young says a Holocaust novel usually introduces documentary sources—that is, “in order to reinforce” its “documentary authority.” As Young goes on to point out, “the operative trope underpinning the documentary character” of much Holocaust ﬁction is “the rhetorical principle of testimony, not its actuality” (61). On this showing, it is Sophie’s account of her experience in Auschwitz, confessed to Stingo in long ﬂashbacks, that secures the narrative authority of Sophie’s Choice. The reason for citing Holocaust literature appears to be otherwise. The references establish the authority of the narrator, investing Stingo/Styron with learning and distinguishing him from those for whom Auschwitz is merely a catchword.
4. Against Jewish Exclusivism The historicity and expertise are very much to the point, because the novel’s case against the Jewish interpretation of the Holocaust depends upon the claim that Jews are ignorant of the historical reality. Obsessed with what Sophie calls their “unearned unhappiness” (141), with “examin[ing] their miserable little Jewish souls” (383), the Jews dissolve the Holocaust into the collective memory of Jewish suﬀering, masking the suﬀering of non-Jewish victims. Not that they are unique in this: “[P]eople here in America, despite all the published facts, the photographs, the newsreels, still did not seem to know what had happened, except in the most empty, superﬁcial way. Buchenwald, Belsen, Dachau, Auschwitz—all stupid catchwords. This inability to comprehend on any real level of awareness was another reason why [Sophie] so rarely had spoken to anyone about it, totally aside from the lacerating pain it caused her to dwell on that part of her past” (154). What diﬀerentiates the Jews from other Americans is their urge to interpret the Holocaust, to give it some meaning, while not even trying to comprehend it on any real level of awareness. It is signiﬁcant, then, that when Sophie
Jews Without Memory
chooses to speak to someone about it at last, she conﬁdes her Holocaust experience not to her Jewish lover, but to Stingo. Her lover is more concerned about what the Holocaust means for his fellow Jews than about what had happened to Sophie, who actually went through it. Throughout the novel the Jews are identiﬁed (and identify themselves) with the “precious heritage of suﬀering.” Stingo claims to “have from the very beginning responded warmly to Jews”; he recalls with longing his “ﬁrst love” Miriam Bookbinder, “who even at the age of six wore in her lovely hooded eyes the vaguely disconsolate, largely inscrutable mystery of her race . . .” (41). The mystical racialism here may be intended ironically—a callow Gentile’s transgressive desire for the dark Autrui—but Stingo never entirely abandons this view that disconsolation is the essence of being Jewish. Years later, the Jews continue to exercise a fascination over him. To save money after losing a job in publishing, Stingo relocates from Manhattan to Brooklyn. There he ﬁnds himself “more deep in the heart of Jewry” than if he had been “set down in Tel Aviv” (42).9 Taking a room in a garish pink boardinghouse run by Yetta Zimmerman, he remarks upon the “Byzantine ﬂavor” of the other residents’ names—Nathan Landau, Lillian Grossman, Morris Fink, Sophie Zawistowska, Astrid Weinstein, Moishe Muskatblit—but it is he not they (or, rather, with one other exception it is he not they) who dwells in a Byzantine diaspora. “[W]hat in God’s name was I doing here,” he wonders, “in the unimaginable reaches of Brooklyn, an ineﬀective and horny Calvinist among all these Jews?” (39). Thus Sophie’s Choice opens with an ideological and demographic reversal. The Jews are the majority; a white Southerner takes up residence in their American capital, suddenly ﬁnding himself on the margins of the dominant ideology. Soon he meets an articulate spokesman for that ideology, the loudest and perhaps most deserving claimant to the precious heritage— Sophie’s lover Nathan Landau, who lays siege to Stingo’s imagination and sucks him toward the epicenter of the novel’s tragedy (62, 65). In their ﬁrst conversation, arguing with Stingo about Southern racism, Nathan shouts that a recent lynching in Georgia “is as bottomlessly barbaric as any act performed by the Nazis during the rule of Adolf Hitler!” “I say this as one whose people have suﬀered the death camps,” he explains—not as one whose beloved has suﬀered the camps, but whose people has. “As a Jew,” he says, “I regard myself as an authority on anguish and suﬀering” (75). Jewish identity, in short, is founded upon the claim to
American Literary History
suﬀering. And it is the authority inherent in such a claim that motivates and directs the Jewish interpretation of the Holocaust. Yet it is not at all clear that Nathan’s knowledge of the Holocaust is very deep or wide. Stingo accuses him of being blind to the true nature of evil (223). And even in that ﬁrst conversation with Stingo, Sophie chides him: “What do you know about concentration camps, Nathan Landau? Nothing at all” (79). Although he has nursed her back to health, completing the survival that liberation from Auschwitz had only begun, Nathan is not particularly concerned with Sophie’s experience: “[D]uring their ﬁrst days together he had scarcely seemed aware of the raw actuality of the experience she had gone through, even though the by-products of that experience—her malnutrition, her anemia, her vanished teeth—had been his constant and devoted concern. Certainly he had not been entirely unaware of the camps; perhaps, Sophie thought, the enormity of their existence had been for Nathan, as for so many Americans, part of a drama too far away, too abstract, too foreign (and thus too hard to comprehend) to register fully on the mind” (350). The opposition between “raw actuality” and “abstract enormity” continues to aﬀect Nathan’s comprehension even after he becomes obsessed with “the Nazi handiwork.” He interprets the Holocaust as a collective enormity for the Jews while consistently overlooking the actuality of Sophie’s experience. After seeing newsreel footage of the Warsaw ghetto in the late summer or early fall of 1946, he suddenly ﬁnds himself “in the grip of a delayed realization, as in one of the later phases of shock” and searches out “everything available on the camps, on Nuremberg, on the war, on anti-Semitism and the slaughter of the European Jews,” reading books like The Jew and Human Sacriﬁce by Hermann Strack (1909), The New Poland and the Jews by Simon Segal (1938), and The Promise That Hitler Kept by Stefan Szende (1945). The ﬁrst two titles in particular are telling. A Christian theologian at the University of Berlin, Strack wrote his book to detail and refute the blood libel, “earn[ing] him, not praise as a lover of truth, but condemnation as a lackey of the Jews” (Segel 69). The New Poland and the Jews described the rise of the Sanacja regime in Poland in 1926, which “unleash[ed] such an antiSemitic hue and cry that Poland before the war became the leading anti-Semitic country in Europe, second to Germany alone” (Ringelblum 10). In other words, these two books reﬂect and reinforce Nathan’s tendency to deny the “raw actuality” of the Holocaust and to displace it onto Jewish fears of totalizing antiSemitism. Although Nathan begins to behave “like a soul quite
Jews Without Memory
troubled and possessed,” his reaction to the Holocaust is out of touch with its reality: “Wasn’t it possible, he asked Sophie once—and, he added, speaking as a cellular biologist—that on the level of human behavior the Nazi phenomenon was analogous to a huge and crucial colony of cells going morally berserk, creating the same kind of danger to the body of humanity as does a virulently malignant tumor in a single human body?” (351). The key here is Nathan’s assertion of expertise “as a cellular biologist,” because of course he is nothing of the sort. As his brother Larry reveals to Stingo later, “Nathan is not a research biologist. He is not a bona-ﬁde scientist, and he has no degree of any kind. All that is a simple fabrication” (462). His interpretation of the Holocaust—Nathan’s claim to be an authority on anguish and suﬀering—is based upon a fantasy. The biological interpretation is a momentary distraction from the Jewish interpretation. Already “troubled and possessed” by it, Nathan is pushed over the edge by ideological thunderings of what the Holocaust means for the Jews. This occurs at a party that he and Sophie attend on 16 October 1946, the night when 10 Nuremberg defendants are hanged. As they get dressed for the party, a special radio bulletin informs them that “in the prison at Nuremberg ex-Field Marshal Hermann Goring had been discovered dead in his cell, a suicide.” Nathan, ¨ whose reckoning with “the recently bygone unspeakables” could easily turn into “a preoccupying rage,” is immediately transformed from “his exuberant, rollicking, outgoing self to a desperate soul riddled with anguish.” Sophie feels “a hovering and ominous discomfort at the bubbling-over of all the things on earth she wanted to forget” (349). At the party Nathan joins a group that is crowded around the radio, listening to news reports of the Nuremberg executions. Harold Schoenthal, a young philosophy professor at Brooklyn College, “very tortured and unhappy, very conscious of being Jewish,” suddenly begins to address them. “Nuremberg is a farce,” he cries, “these hangings are a farce. This is only a token vengeance, a sideshow! . . . Nuremberg is an obscene diversion to give the appearance of justice while murderous hatred of the Jews still poisons the German people. It is the German people who should be themselves exterminated—they who allowed these men to rule them and kill Jews. Not these . . . handful of carnival villains. . . . Are we going to allow those people to grow rich and slaughter Jews again?” (357). Schoenthal is a fanatic, warning that the Holocaust was not the ﬁnal solution of the Jewish problem. It merely “prove[d] that Jews can never be safe anywhere. He almost shouted that word anywhere,” Sophie tells Stingo afterwards. “It was like listening to a very pow-
American Literary History
erful speaker,” she recalls. “I had heard he was supposed to keep his students hypnotized and I remember being fascinated as I watched and listened” (357). Of course, Schoenthal is not the ﬁrst “hypnotic” speaker in this century to have called for the extermination of an entire people. The implication is clear. In his hyperconsciousness of being Jewish—perverted by a racial ideology—Schoenthal is an avatar of Hitler. If this sounds far-fetched, consider Schoenthal’s eﬀect upon Nathan. Listening to Schoenthal, he “was like—well, he was like someone who was hypnotized, Sophie recalls” (359). He has fallen under the spell of Schoenthal’s anti-anti-Semitism, an ideological representation of the Jewish experience. Early the next morning, wired on amphetamines, Nathan drives Sophie to Connecticut, saying, “Schoenthal is right. If it can happen there, won’t it happen here? The Cossacks are coming! Here’s one Jewboy who’s going to make tracks for the countryside” (360). He identiﬁes Jewishness with a tense and suspicious watchfulness— a paranoid watchfulness—for violent hatred of the Jews.10 As he drives, Nathan keeps repeating that “Schoenthal is one hundred percent right . . .” (363). And suddenly he begins to call Sophie Irma—for Irma Grese, the SS woman supervisor at Auschwitz who was notorious for her cruelty. He begins to torture Sophie with questions: “[W]hat did you do, baby, when they burned the ghettos down?” (366). He is oblivious to her tears, the anguish he is causing her. Outside Danbury he stops the car, leads Sophie into the Connecticut woods, urinates on her, and then kicks her in the ribs with a “polished leather shoe,” saying, “dot vill teach you . . . dirty Judinschwein!” (370). ¨ The Jew who claims to be an authority on anguish and suﬀering becomes the author of anguish and suﬀering. As Sophie observes, Nathan knows nothing at all about the death camps. But she does know; she was there. His claim to authority on suﬀering, then, is really the arrogation of another’s suﬀering. He is able to demand with a sneer that Sophie “justify to his satisfaction the way in which she survived Auschwitz while ‘the others’ (as he put it) perished” only because he is ignorant of the real extent to which she—and anyone—suﬀered there (336). As a consequence, he becomes her torturer, the reincarnation of the SS in her life. If Nathan himself suﬀers, it is not at the hands of Nazis; he does not suﬀer by virtue of belonging to a “people [who] have suﬀered the death camps.” He suﬀers because he is mentally ill—a paranoid schizophrenic (463). One critic suggests that Nathan’s “madness reﬂects the human condition after the Holocaust” (Pearce 292). This is almost certainly the case, but there is more to it than that. In the novel, schizophrenia is deﬁned
Jews Without Memory
as a double bind, an irrational contradiction. In a conversation overheard by Sophie, Rudolf Hoss complains that the regime’s ¨ policy toward the Jews—extracting slave labor from them while also seeking to exterminate them—is “giving us all schizophrenia . . .” (443). For Styron, this schizophrenia—not their aim of annihilating the Jewish people, but the Nazis’ development of a “new form of human society” based on the expendability of the very people they were enslaving—is the genuinely unique characteristic of the Holocaust.11 And such slavery, such a new form of human cruelty, requires neither Jews nor Nazis. Nathan is “given schizophrenia” by something similar to what gave schizophrenia to Hoss: namely, the irrational contradiction between paranoid ¨ Jewish fears of violent hatred (which, according to Styron, is the ideological basis of Jewish identity) while simultaneously lusting to inﬂict suﬀering upon Sophie. What Styron means to show is that Jewish historical ignorance, displaying itself as a selfrighteous and exaggerated insistence upon the exclusive Jewish quality of suﬀering in the Holocaust, inﬂicts further suﬀering on the real victims. “It is surpassingly diﬃcult,” Stingo/Styron reﬂects after coming across George Steiner’s Language and Silence in 1967, “for many Jews to see beyond the consecrated nature of the Nazis’ genocidal fury,” and to make more than “ﬂeeting reference to the vast multitudes of non-Jews—the myriad Slavs and the Gypsies—who were swallowed up in the apparatus of the camps, perishing just as surely as the Jews, though sometimes less methodically” (237). The failure to see the non-Jewish victims is inseparable from the Jewish eﬀort to “consecrate” the Holocaust in collective memory. But to consecrate the Holocaust, then—to reduce it to a Jewish religious holiday, as an antagonist once put it in debate with me—is to treat the other victims as nonpersons, just as the Nazis had treated the Jews. And thus it is to be Jews without memory. The biblical commandment zakhor et asherashah l’ka-Amalek, “remember what Amalek did to you” (Deut. 25.17), is forgotten when the victims are other than Jews. Exclusivism is the cause of further suﬀering.
5. Styron’s Universal Tragedy In opposition to the Jewish consecration, Styron interprets the Holocaust as a universal human tragedy. Sophie suﬀers “as much as any Jew who had survived the same aﬄictions,” because Nazi Germany’s victims were not aﬄicted for being Jews. Under
American Literary History
Hitler, everyone suﬀered—Jews, Poles, Gypsies, Russians, Czechs, Yugoslavs, all the others. Vast multitudes of non-Jews were also swallowed up in the apparatus of the camps, perishing just as surely as the Jews. What then did the victims have in common? They did not share an identity by virtue of belonging to the same victimized people; they shared the same fate. One by one they were reduced to what Lawrence L. Langer has called “choiceless choice,” “where crucial decisions did not reﬂect options between life and death, but between one form of abnormal response and another . . .” (Versions 72). Here Sophie is the representative, indeed sacriﬁcial ﬁgure. When she makes the choice to which the novel’s title refers—being a “Polack” and not a “Yid,” she is given the “privilege” of choosing which of her two children is to die in the gas chamber and which is to live—she has no real choice, of course (529). She is given only the monstrous illusion of choice. She is not a moral agent, choosing for herself among a range of options and by this means deﬁning her character; she is the creature of the SS oﬃcer who reduces her “choices” to two. It is meaningless to speak of “choice” in this context. And that is Styron’s point. The Holocaust is not the only site of choiceless choice known to modernity; it may only be the most exemplary. In Styron’s hands, the choiceless choice is a modern reworking of Aristotelian hamartia. It is not a moral defect, but a tragic aﬄiction. Simone Weil is the quoted source: “Aﬄiction stamps the soul to its very depths with the scorn, the disgust and even the self-hatred and sense of guilt that crime logically should produce but does not” (158).12 Although each is stained by it, none of the principal characters in Sophie’s Choice is responsible for crime. They are stamped with an aﬄiction not of their choosing. If Sophie does not choose to be aﬄicted with the guilt of having sent one of her own children to the gas chamber, Nathan does not choose to be a paranoid schizophrenic. He does not set out to become her torturer. His abuse of Sophie ends in their mutual suicide; it is not so much unjust or cruel as it is tragic, symbolic, the compulsive repetition of a universal pattern in twentieth-century experience. Thinking back, Stingo says: “Now, after the passing of time in this bloody century, whenever there has occurred any of those unimaginable deeds of violence that have plundered our souls, my memory has turned back to Nathan . . . and his image has always seemed to foreshadow these wretched unending years of madness, illusion, error, dream and strife” (487). Nathan is tragically aﬄicted by a doctrine of Jewish exclusivism—a precious heritage of suﬀering—which is funda-
Jews Without Memory
mentally racist and therefore provokes him to violence. He does not choose to be a Jew, and his acceptance of the Jews’ racist inheritance of exclusivism is a tragic mistake. Styron makes this clear by drawing a parallel between Southerners and the Jews. Southerners feel “a grander empathy with Jewish folk,” Stingo says, largely because of their deep Protestant intimacy with the Hebrew Scriptures, but also “because Southerners have possessed another, darker sacriﬁcial lamb” (41). Nathan disputes this grand empathy, comparing one of the “nastiest abettors” of Southern racism—Mississippi senator Theodore Bilbo—to eliminationist anti-Semitism’s Fuhrer (223). ¨ For him racism is precisely what divides Southerner and Jew; he claims a kinship with the victims of Southern racism. As it turns out, though, Stingo is right. There is a grand empathy between him and Nathan in any number of ways: they are both in love with the same woman; they are both sensitive to postwar cultural changes, especially the new wave in American ﬁction; they are both the heirs of traditions which identify them; they both dwell in a “lonely and outcast state” (12). And if the Southerner has “possessed another, darker sacriﬁcial lamb,” Nathan possesses a sacriﬁcial lamb of his own—Sophie. No more than Nathan, though, does Stingo choose to be a Southerner. His inheritance of the Southern legacy of slavery and racism is a tragic mistake. It might be argued that Stingo ﬂees to New York to escape the curse of the inheritance, but comes into it anyway. Styron literalizes the inheritance, contriving to have Stingo live on the proceeds of a slave sale. In the late 1850s, his great-grandfather had sold a 16-year-old slave boy, signiﬁcantly named Artiste, for $800 in gold coins when the boy was falsely accused of making an “improper advance” at a white belle. Ninety years later, Stingo’s father discovers the coins walled-up in a cellar. The money is passed down to Stingo, who lives on it as a stipend while writing his ﬁrst novel (32–33). Only afterward does he recognize that it is the token of a “guilt” which he must “shrive” (34). When Nathan accuses him of complicity in the lynching of a young African American for ogling a white girl—“your refusal to admit responsibility in the death of Bobby Weed is the same as that of those Germans who disavowed the Nazi party even as they watched blindly and unprotestingly as the thugs vandalized the synagogues and perpetrated the Kristallnacht,” he shouts—Stingo feels the accusation is “horrendously wrong,” yet ﬁnds he cannot answer it (76). The reason it is wrong, by Styron’s lights, is that the inheritance of racism is not a matter of responsibility, because it is not the product of choice. These are moral categories. And instead Styron holds that the inheritance of racism is a
American Literary History
“guilt” which must be “shriven”; it is, as the Greeks would say, a “pollution” that needs to be “purged”; it is a choiceless choice, a tragic mistake. These are the appropriate metaphysical categories for interpreting the human fate. And therefore it is right to call the deaths of Sophie and Nathan, as Stingo does, a “real tragedy” (556). Sophie’s Choice aims at a katharsis of the metaphysical evil that aﬄicted them no less than it has bloodied this entire century. Styron’s tragic universalism raises problems. To merge genocide, lynch-law racism, and the abuse of women into “this bloody century” with its “unimaginable deeds of violence that have plundered our souls”—to conceive Nazism as an “evil” that was “going to come and get” the whole world—is to absolutize them. It is to remove them from the human experience and elevate them to a mystical realm where the forces of light and darkness do battle eternally.13 As the Jewish philosopher Franz Rosenzweig points out, this is “to posit a world radically diﬀerent from the terrestrial,” and thus to distance evil from the human eﬀort to repair the terrestrial world (Glatzer 39). If evil is absolute, what sense is there in speaking of a human capacity to do good? When evil is extraterrestrialized in this way, it loses its power to disturb; it even loses its name. Small wonder, then, that Styron calls the SS oﬃcer who gives Sophie the choiceless choice Fritz Jemand von Niemand—someone from no one—a good name, he remarks, “for one who appeared to Sophie as if from nowhere and vanished likewise forever . . .” (526). This is how he means to characterize the Nazi evil: it had no particular source in German history nor in German ideology. It appeared as if from nowhere and vanished again—not forever, but merely to reappear under the name of another people and ideology, perhaps even that of the Jews. The tragic interpretation extracts the Holocaust from history. To support his case that the Nazis’ victims were identiﬁed not by their Jewishness but by their aﬄiction and that the Jews were as capable as anyone of aﬄicting others, Styron must distort the historical record at certain key points.14 To gain authority for his poetics of aﬄiction, he cites Simone Weil but ignores her antiJudaism—like Hitler she believed that the Jews were a race, not a religion—and her death from voluntary starvation, which was nothing like a choiceless choice.15 He conceals the fact (or does not know) that the universalizing of the Nazi threat was an invention of Communist Party discourse. In The Ashes of Six Million Jews, a book-length poem of 1946, for example, Fred Blair gives a close and graphic description of a mass execution of Jews—one of the ﬁrst literary representations in the language.
Jews Without Memory
The Communist Party’s chairman in Wisconsin and a member of its national committee, Blair is also one of the ﬁrst writers to use the term holocaust, although he warns not of a Jewish but of a “human holocaust.” After they have shot their victims and dumped them in a mass grave, The executioners pour pitch And oil into the groaning ditch, And drive away the settling frost With a ﬁerce human holocaust. (17) The phrase suits a universalizing ideology. The six million Jews, Blair writes, must “all witness be / To the degradation of mankind / Under the bestial fascist mind” (12). Indeed, the poem is dedicated, not to the Jews whose death it records, but to “the Wisconsin men who died in the immortal Abraham Lincoln Brigade ﬁghting fascism in Spain.” Predictably, then, Blair’s message is that we must “extirpate / The last mad breeder of race-hate,” which breeder is “bourgeois ‘culture,’” “bourgeois ‘justice,’” and “bourgeois ‘order.’” So Blair closes by praising “the Soviet land that Lenin founded,” where “every nation, creed, and race / Finds a co-equal dwelling place. . . .” For only Sovietism can destroy “the social roots that could produce / The ashes of six million Jews” (21). This rosy vision hardly corresponds to the truth about the Soviet Union’s campaign of oﬃcial state anti-Semitism, which began with the murder of 500,000 to 600,000 Jews in the Great Terror of the 1930s and ended with the extinction of Jewish Soviet culture.16 Universalism entails the suppression of inconvenient facts for the sake of a utopian world in which all are one—for Weil, in Christ; for Blair, under Soviet rule; for Styron, where “love ﬂow[s] out on all living things” (560). And though the New Left has tried to substitute multiculturalism for universalism, it has not been able to abandon completely what the feminist philosopher Anne Phillips calls the “universal pretensions of political thought.” As Phillips herself says, speaking for one branch of the New Left, “feminism cannot aﬀord to situate itself for diﬀerence and against universality, for the impulse that takes us beyond our immediate and speciﬁc diﬀerence is a vital necessity in any radical transformation” (71). Where radical transformation is the ﬁnal cause, ethnic identity is ﬁnally of no account, because what is sought is the universal good—a good that transcends ethnic diﬀerences. “This line of thought,” the biblical scholar Jon D. Levenson points out, “has traditionally served powerfully to reinforce an image of Judaism as separatist, exclusivistic, and chau-
American Literary History
vinistic, in contradistinction to Christianity”—or communism or liberalism for that matter—“which [are] thought to be integrationist, inclusive, and non-particularist” (215). From the Jewish side, things look rather diﬀerent. Since the Roman Empire conquered Jerusalem in 63 B.C.E., the Jews have resisted “Western” claims to universality. As the feminist theologian Rosemary Ruether observes, “The heart of the Jewish struggle was a struggle against a pseudo-universalism which assumed the culture of the dominant group was a universal culture, the culture of true civilization, against which all else was barbarism” (233). Under whatever name it chooses, universalism is the apology for ideological domination. And whether it is inspired by fury at the bestial fascist mind that plans a human holocaust or fear and pity for the aﬄiction that stamps the soul to its very depths, any reinterpretation of the Holocaust as a universal threat which was going to come for the whole world is a projection (and denial) of imperialistic cultural ambitions. From this angle, the accusation of Jewish exclusivism can be seen more accurately as an eﬀort to stigmatize and discredit resistance to the hegemony implicit within a universalizing ideology.
6. Liberal Anti-Judaism Although Michel Foucault, Richard Rorty, Alasdair MacIntyre, and others have warned about the pseudo-universalizing tendency in Western traditions like liberalism, scholars on the Left have not hesitated to condemn the Jewish interpretation of the Holocaust. I have already mentioned Stannard, who argues that not only is Jewish Holocaust study “demonstrably erroneous,” but what is worse, “the larger thesis it fraudulently advances is racist and violence-provoking” (167). And the liberal attack continues to mount. The “very idea of uniqueness is fatuous,” declares the historian Peter Novick. In the ﬁrst full-length study of The Holocaust in American Life (1999), he accounts for the cultural “obsession” by arguing that “Jews were intent on permanent possession of the gold medal in the Victimization Olympics. . . .” Encouraged to adopt “an essential victim identity” and a phony exclusivism (“Holocaust possessiveness,” he calls it), American Jews have turned inward and rightward, becoming “parochial” in their concerns and deserting their longstanding commitment to “the more equal distribution of rewards which had been the aim of liberal social policies” (182–83, 191– 97). Albert S. Lindemann agrees that the uniqueness thesis is “profoundly mistaken.” But he goes even farther. In Esau’s Tears
Jews Without Memory
(1997), a major new history of anti-Semitism based upon the proposition that the “Jews have been as capable as any other group of provoking hostility” (xvii), Lindemann associates the thesis with “protoracist” Jewish ideas that have “contributed in vague, often contradictory ways to modern racism,” which culminated in the Holocaust (74). Thus the Jews are partly responsible for their own mass murder—a hypothesis, he complains, that Jewish scholars have banned from historical inquiry (510). Norman G. Finkelstein, a specialist in Palestine studies, contends that Holocaust study is a propaganda enterprise. He calls it The Holocaust Industry (2000). Sharply distinguishing it from “the Nazi holocaust,” “the actual historical event” (3), Finkelstein insists that the Holocaust is an “ideological representation,” a political machine designed to capitalize upon Jewish victimhood, which dates only from the Six-Day War in 1967. “Organized American Jewry has exploited the Nazi holocaust to deﬂect criticism of Israel’s and its own morally indefensible policies,” he concludes (149). The particulars of the case may be new, but historically speaking the Left has always been uncomfortable with singling out the Jews. In his inaugural lecture to the French Academy, the historian Alain Besancon points out that “in the Soviet Union ¸ under the Communists, it was forbidden to single out the Jews as objects of Nazi genocide; only undiﬀerentiated ‘victims of fascism’ were recognized” (26). Besancon goes on to speculate that ¸ this prohibition “was intended to mask the regime’s own antiSemitic policies,” but a more basic reason is that the Left opposes special consideration for the Jews on principle. Its historical attitude is summed up in two slogans that emerged from the December 1789 debate over Jewish rights in the French House of Deputies: “The Jew is a man before he is a Jew.” And: “To the Jew as a citizen, everything; to the Jews as a people, nothing.” 17 These principles are logical extensions of the Rights of Man, but they are also—and historically they have operated as—a demand that the Jews abandon their Jewish exclusiveness (including their exclusively Jewish ideas) as the price of admission into full citizenship and social acceptance. “[T]he Jews were to be considered as individual citizens in the modern nation-states of Western Europe,” explains the social theorist Shmuel Trigano. “Accordingly, they had to give up the historical bonds they had formed over many centuries and become abstract individuals whose Jewishness was no more than a private aﬀair” (300). What Enlightenment liberals conceived as civic betterment entailed both a reform of the Jews’ social habits, morals, and perhaps even religion, as well as an improvement of their politi-
American Literary History
cal status (see J. Katz 192). The Jews were simultaneously a sign of the failure of civil society to that time, but also the crudest example of “superstition” and “backwardness.” As Alain Finkielkraut observes in The Imaginary Jew (1994), “the Mosaic Law that had preserved them as a unique people and antiSemitic myths were both subsumed under the category of prejudice and superstition” (72). In his famous Essai of 1789, for ´ ´ example, the Catholic Abbe Henri Gregoire called for emancipation of the Jews, but only on the condition that the organized Jewish community be broken up. The state must urge the Jews to “acquire enlightenment,” he said, because they are a people “sunk in the depths of grossest superstition and submerged in an ocean of stupid beliefs.” At the same time, though, “[t]he Jews are members of the universal family which is in the process of creating fraternity among all the peoples” (qtd. in Hertzberg 336–37). Meanwhile, the conservative opponents of emancipation warned that Jewish religious practices, which restricted the Jews from eating with their fellow citizens or marrying them, were devices by which the Jews separated themselves from the rest of society. “You will see that it is not I who exclude the Jews,” said the Jacobin deputy Jean Francois Reubell; “they exclude ¸ themselves” (qtd. in Hertzberg 355). The Jews’ obstinate clinging to the exclusivist rigor of their law—their insistence upon ritual purity, dietary restrictions, and endogamy—was thus a political obstacle to full citizenship. Give up your exclusiveness, the liberals promised the Jews, and emancipation will follow. The liberal principle “The Jew is a man before he is a Jew” became the assimilationist advice faites-vous oublier (make yourself inconspicuous), which was the implicit social contract upon which the Jews entered into their full legal rights (Hertzberg 343). The ideal of the liberal state was to create a common set of values, the grounds for a shared civic identity—what has come to be called a civil religion—while allowing for individual and group diﬀerences. But what Enlightenment liberalism failed to account for was that in the name of emancipation it was merely imposing a majoritarian ideology upon the Jews. In America, the civil religion acquired a noticeably Protestant taste. In December 1845, for instance, a Jewish merchant in Charleston, South Carolina, was arrested for selling a pair of gloves on Sunday in violation of the city’s “blue” laws. Although his attorney pointed out that the Fourth Commandment reads Six days shalt thy labor, and that by requiring Jews to observe the Christian sabbath in addition to their own the state was forcing them to violate Jewish law, the arrest was upheld. The Charleston Sunday Times editorialized in favor of the court’s decision: “Freedom of religion
Jews Without Memory
means a mere abolition of religious disabilities. You are free to worship God in any manner you please; and this liberty of conscience cannot be violated. An ordinance for the better observance of Sunday is a mere prohibition of public employment in the way of labor, trade, and business. We cannot in this perceive how liberty of conscience is to be invaded. It does not say to the Hebrew, ‘You shall not keep holy the seventh day,’ but merely declares that you shall not disturb the Christian by business or labor on his Sabbath” (Schappes 281). You shall not disturb the Christian—there in a phrase is the hidden majoritarian premise behind emancipation. Religion is conceived as a private matter, a matter of worship, which is the Protestant conception of it. The Jews were oﬀered freedom, but only at the cost of detaching themselves from Jewish culture and religion. Jewishness came to be identiﬁed with the Enlightenment values of individual freedom and liberation from tradition; and the result, as the political scientist Steven B. Smith observes, “has been the transformation of Judaism from a body of revealed law into something like a modern cultural or political identity. The transformation of Jewishness, once considered a mark of God’s election, into a modern sociological category of group identity has raised powerful and profound problems for the survival of Judaism in the secular liberal state” (202). This is the heart of the problem. The hostility to Jewish exclusivism is a hostility to Jewishness as such, because the Jews are deﬁned by the exclusivist conviction that they are an autonomous and chosen people.18 Liberalism is disturbed by the chauvinism or even racism implicit in the very concept. And what it proposes instead is the ideal of impartial morality. Perhaps the best contemporary example—certainly among the most inﬂuential—is John Rawls’s Theory of Justice (1971), which argues that deliberative morality must occur behind a “veil of ignorance” (136–42). In Rawls’s argument, justice demands that people behave as if they did not know their real circumstances, whether they are rich or poor, powerful or weak, well-connected or isolated—or Gentile or Jewish. The demand of modern secular liberalism, in other words, is that people divest themselves of their historical identity as a prerequisite to justice. And if the Jews wish to belong to a just society, then—if they wish to be moral— they must give up the chauvinistic or even racist conception of themselves as a chosen people. In political terms they are expected to abandon the idea of themselves as a distinct and autonomous people, and assimilate into the majority. In theological terms they are asked to opt out of their covenant with the Jewish God, which is the basis of their election, and to embrace an im-
American Literary History
partial morality that excludes any preference for their own kind (“to the Jews as a people, nothing”). In short, they are to stop being Jews—except on the understanding that religious aﬃliation is an individual concern, a matter of private worship, which is not the Jewish understanding. Even to worship as Jews, they must adopt the Christian majority’s conception of themselves. They must not consecrate their own history in their own way, but must acknowledge that they are racists if they do. And it is never thought that these demands might be conversion and annihilation under diﬀerent names.
7. Styron’s Contradictions There is a contradiction here. Styron’s Jews, faulted for their historical amnesia and exclusivist appropriation of the Holocaust, are already thoroughly assimilated Jews. They are not merely ignorant of the Holocaust (“What’s Owswitch?” says one character in Sophie’s Choice ); they neither practice nor have any familiarity with their own religious traditions. They do not observe Jewish law; they do not recite Jewish prayers; they do not follow the Jewish calendar. Although Schoenthal is described as “very conscious of being Jewish,” even his Jewishness is deﬁned negatively—as a hypersensitivity to anti-Semitism rather than the positive commitment to anything. For Styron, breasts are Jewish: he says so three diﬀerent times (130, 135, 137). Overweight mothers are Jewish (178). Wearing a light scent of perfume rather than being drenched in musk is “real Jewish class” (181). The neurotic temptress Leslie Lapidus is a “Jewish princess,” as Stingo grasps later after “much study in Jewish sociology” (184). The only Jewish books which are mentioned are Saul Bellow’s. Abraham, Moses, the Psalmist, and Daniel are to be found in “the Protestant/Jewish Bible” (41). In Stingo’s fantasies of a Jewish home, the Torah and the Talmud lay open, “having just undergone pious scrutiny . . .” (177). But in reality, as he subsequently discovers, they are nowhere to be found—a measure of the extent to which Styron’s Jews have given up their religion. Nathan’s “show-biz stories” are described as “profoundly Jewish” (470), but there is no Mishnah, no Gemara, no Midrash, no Zohar, no Maimonides, no Shulhan Arukh, not even a pray. erbook or bentsher. Although their “parents had been Orthodox Jews,” neither Nathan nor his brother Larry “had been inside a synagogue for years” (555). Naturally, then, at Nathan’s funeral the presiding clergyman is Unitarian, because “a rabbi seemed inappropriate” to Larry, the surviving son of Orthodox Jewish
Jews Without Memory
parents (556). The Reverend DeWitt invokes Lincoln, Emerson, Dale Carnegie, Spinoza, Thomas Edison, Sigmund Freud, and Jesus of Nazareth—“once, in rather distant terms” (557). Stingo ﬁnds such invocations “fucking bullshit,” probably because their grab-bag quality identiﬁes them as middlebrow, and at the graveside he oﬀers a poem by Emily Dickinson instead. To someone raised in the Jewish tradition, who would have arranged an Orthodox funeral for his parents, at which Psalms and El Maley . Rahamim would have been chanted, the cultural distance separating Emily Dickinson from Lincoln, Emerson, and even Dale Carnegie would have been diﬃcult to appreciate. For Styron, however, the distance is immense, because he ampliﬁes minor diﬀerences in a tradition from which Jewish texts are excluded altogether. To gain admission to this tradition, the Jews have historically been expected to abandon the textual study which has not only made them strange and unfamiliar to the enlightened, but would have served as the basis for a critique of such enlightenment. Styron’s interpretation of the Holocaust divests the Jewish victims of their Jewishness and assigns their tragedy instead to the universal category of choiceless choice. But he does not see how such an interpretation robs the choice that generations of European Jews had made—to remain faithful to their people and their God—of any meaning. Under Hitler, the Jews were rounded up, deported, enslaved, tortured, and murdered not because they were “aﬄicted” in Weil’s sense, but because they were Jews—because they were the descendants of Jews who had chosen not to give up their religion. Unlike the European Jews, Stingo does not choose to inherit the legacy of slavery, Nathan does not choose to be a paranoid schizophrenic, Sophie does not choose to be aﬄicted with the guilt of having murdered her child. And unlike the European Jews, then, they really do (in Novick’s phrase) accept “an essential victim identity.” Jewish religion, by contrast, transforms choiceless suﬀering into the choice zakharta ki eved hayiyta b’eretz Mitzrayim, “remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt” (Deut. 5.15), which forms the basis of the commandment not to oppress the other (e.g., Exod. 22.20), a commandment that is repeated 36 times in the Torah—more than any other (T.b. Bava Metzia 59b). In other words, Jewish ethnicity does not function, as the leftist critic Werner Sollors claims, to dissociate the Jews from “‘other people,’ in particular ‘non-Jews’ (to render ‘goyim,’ the Hebrew word for Gentiles)” (288), but rather serves as the basis of political and ethical respect.19 And the source of Jewish ethnicity is Jewish collective memory, which requires Jewish study. The Jews of Sophie’s Choice are thoroughly assimilated. The
American Literary History
only respect in which they remain Jewish at all is in their exclusivist response to the Holocaust. Not merely in Styron’s novel, though, but in Europe prior to 1933 many Jews adhered to the liberal demand that they abandon their exclusivism. Yet when Hitler rose to power, he condemned the Jews as a whole, whether or not they had abandoned their exclusivism. The liberalism that had promised an end to anti-Semitism turned out to be empty. To the Left-liberal ideology of abstract citizenship the Holocaust stands as an enduring challenge, because the Jews were rounded up and murdered as a distinct and autonomous people. Auschwitz has forever reactualized the idea that liberalism has never known how to handle. It demonstrated a latent weakness on the left: namely, an inability to recognize the Jews’ autonomy and unique history. This is a weakness that the Left-liberal critics of Jewish exclusivism have yet to grasp. Not only does Styron fail to recognize the Jews as a people. He fails to understand the sense in which the Holocaust calls into question the Left-liberal distaste for Jewish exclusivism. If the Jews are without memory of other people’s suﬀering, it is because he has constructed them as assimilated Jews, Jews without memory; because ﬁrst Enlightenment liberalism and now the New Left would oblige them to abandon the sources of their collective memory.
1. Although it is not always the same as the hardback (see n. 13), I cite the paperback edition from Vintage throughout this essay, because it is more readily available. 2. See Bauer; Cohen 27–32; Dawidowicz 9–15, 119–20; Fackenheim 280–88; Gilbert 824–25; Goldhagen 406–15; Steven T. Katz; Langer, “Beyond Theodicy: Jewish Victims and the Holocaust” (1995); Lipstadt 215–16; Ozick, “A Liberal’s Auschwitz” (1976). 3. The books referred to here are Ward Churchill, A Little Matter of Genocide: Holocaust and Denial in the Americas, 1492 to the Present (1998) and Norman G. Finkelstein, A Nation on Trial: The Goldhagen Thesis and Historical Truth (1998). See also Lindemann, as well as Novick. 4. Schoenfeld singles out for criticism Robin Ruth Linden’s Making Stories, Making Selves: Feminist Reﬂections on the Holocaust (1992), winner of the Helen Hooven Santmyer Prize in Women’s Studies; Carol Rittner and John K. Roth’s anthology of primary and secondary sources, Diﬀerent Voices: Women in the Holocaust (1993); and Dalia Ofer and Lenore J. Weitzman’s collection of papers, Women in the Holocaust (1998). The phrase cutting-edge scholarship is Ofer and Weitzman’s.
Jews Without Memory
5. The term is usually advanced to distinguish racial anti-Semitism from religious anti-Judaism; see Ruether 183–226; Langmuir 23–41; and von Kellenbach 10–13. Oddly enough, Bernard Lazare introduced anti-Judaism to collapse the very distinction (8). While wishing to preserve the distinction, I follow Lazare in separating modern anti-Judaism from its religious origins, agreeing with him that “anti-Judaism, from the seventeenth century on, is in all respects quite diﬀerent from the anti-Judaism of the preceding centuries. The social side gets gradually the upperhand of the religious side, though this latter continues to exist” (95). The anti-Judaism that I am describing in this essay is political rather than religious. 6. The proceedings of the International Symposium on the Holocaust are published in Auschwitz: Beginning of a New Era? Reﬂections on the Holocaust (1977), edited by Eva Fleischner. Styron uses the original spelling, antiSemitism, and in my essay I will do the same to conform to American Literary History’s style. I would prefer antisemitism, though. The original spelling, invented in 1879 by the German journalist Wilhelm Marr, implies there is something called Semitism to which anti-Semites stand in principled opposition. But this is itself an anti-Semitic fantasy. Anti-Semitism does not depend for its existence upon a Jewish ism nor even upon the Jews. It is self-generated and freestanding. Hence my preference for the spelling antisemitism. For more principled opposition, I would reserve the term anti-Judaism. 7. Apparently the aphorism originated in speeches that Niemoller gave after ¨ the war, although he seems never to have published it anywhere. Thus it belongs to oral tradition. On the provenance of the aphorism, see Zerner. 8. On Niemoller’s anti-Semitic sermonizing, see Michael; Goldhagen 112–14. ¨ Even after becoming an outspoken opponent of the regime, Niemoller associ¨ ated the Nazi evil with the “eternal” crime of the Jews rather than seeing them as the Nazis’ principal victim. “The Jews are not the only ones who cruciﬁed Christ,” he reminded a large audience in March 1935 (qtd. in Friedman 434). His initial opposition was institutional rather than ideological. Together with Dietrich Bonhoeﬀer, he founded the Pastors’ Emergency League on Christmas 1933. The two men believed that by excluding converted Jews from the leadership of the Confessing Church, Hitler’s regime was interfering in church governance, although Niemoller conceded that it was “unfortunate” that converted ¨ Jews should hold positions of importance within the church (see Friedman; Friedlander 45). Bonhoeﬀer, another Lutheran churchman who became fa¨ mous for his resistance to the Nazis (he was executed in Flossenburg), was also ¨ blinded to Nazi anti-Semitism by Christian theology (see Ruether 224). 9. To name Tel Aviv rather than Jerusalem has cultural and political connotations. Although the Israeli Knesset declared in January 1950 that Jerusalem had “always” been the capital of the Jewish nation (Sachar 434), in liberal thinking it remains an international city—a corpus separatum belonging not to Israel but to the United Nations (Harsch 20). Tel Aviv, by contrast, holds the title of “the ﬁrst Jewish city”; it represents the revival of Hebrew and the building of a culture on the principle “everything Jewish.” Thus it is the capital of the Jewish ideology. According to Schor (who gathers a remarkable array of ¨ texts to illustrate these points), “Tel Aviv is the tangible expression of a practi-
American Literary History
cal, militant brand of Zionism”; and as such, it tends to evoke “an antisemitism which probably many visitors bring with them, unconsciously seeking conﬁrmation of their prejudices” (161). 10. David Shapiro characterizes paranoia as a mode of cognition that is distinguished by a rigid directedness of attention, a tense and hyperalert scanning for evidence to conﬁrm its suspicions. And the tension under which this alertness is maintained is such that it is easily set oﬀ (54–107). 11. See Sophie’s Choice 254–56. Here the Holocaust is analyzed in terms set forth by the death-of-God theologian Richard L. Rubenstein in The Cunning of History: The Holocaust and the American Future (1975), which Styron describes as “one of the essential handbooks of the Nazi era.” This is perhaps the best source to support a metaphysical interpretation of Nazi evil, since Rubenstein’s “tragic theology” posits a separation between history and metaphysics, and this is what enables him to speak of the death of God. See Braiterman 92–100. 12. Slightly misquoted from Weil, Waiting for God (1950). The original reads like this: “Aﬄiction hardens and discourages us because, like a red hot iron, it stamps the soul to its very depths with the scorn, the disgust, and even the selfhatred and sense of guilt and deﬁlement that crime logically should produce but actually does not” (121). 13. Peter J. Haas makes exactly this point at the start of his Morality after Auschwitz: The Radical Challenge of the Nazi Ethic (1988). 14. Link notes that in his “interest in showing the Jews . . . were not the only victims of the SS,” Styron deviates from historical fact by having the professors from the University of Cracow, including Sophie’s father and husband, murdered at Sachsenhausen; in truth, they were freed in March 1940 (137). Rosenfeld points out that, in order to suggest that “the most powerful persecutors of the Jews were other Jews,” Styron falsely identiﬁes Hans Frank, the Nazi Governor General of occupied Poland, as “a Jew, mirabile Dictu . . .” (161). As far as I am aware, no one noticed when Styron quietly deleted this identiﬁcation from the paperback edition (249 in the ﬁrst Random House edition ; 271 in the Vintage International ). 15. On her anti-Judaism, see Nevin. Both Weil and Hitler denied that Judaism could be considered a religion. “Their [the Jews’] whole existence is based on one single great lie,” Hitler wrote in Mein Kampf (1925), “to wit, that they are a religious community while actually they are a race . . .” (232). In The Need for Roots: Prelude to a Declaration of Duties Toward Mankind (1949), Weil premises that religious thought is genuine if and only if it is universal in its appeal. “Such is not the case with Judaism,” she adds, “which is linked to a racial conception” (93). The observation about Weil’s death was oﬀered by one of the anonymous reviewers for ALH. 16. See Rapoport; Vaksberg. The phrases “campaign of oﬃcial state antisemitism” and “extinction of Jewish Soviet culture” belong to Vaksberg. According to Rapoport, “The ratio of Jewish victims [in the Great Terror] was probably the highest among all the Soviet nationalities” (54).
Jews Without Memory
17. The ﬁrst was advanced by Mirabeau, one of the principal spokesmen for the Revolution; the second by Clermont-Tonnerre, leader of the nobility who united with the Third Estate (see Hertzberg 358–59). 18. For the argument that the Jews are deﬁned by being the chosen people see Wyschogrod. Although Wyschogrod’s theology is anti-Maimonidean, Menahem Kellner has traced a similar account of deﬁnition by chosenness in Maimonides. Norman Lamm has also argued, relying upon Maimonides, that a Jew is deﬁned by a dual relationship—a vertical relationship with God and a horizontal relationship with the people of Israel. The doctrine of chosenness has itself been challenged in Jewish thought, most notably by Mordecai Kaplan, who dismissed it as an anachronism and found it incompatible with the civil status of the modern Jew (see Judaism 22–24, 36–43; “Rejecting the Chosen People Idea”). For a history of chosenness in American Jewish thought, including an examination of Kaplan, see Eisen. For a philosophical attempt to distinguish “chosen people” from “master race,” see Novak. 19. See Levinas, Diﬃcult Freedom: Essays on Judaism 176–77, 223–25; “From Ethics to Exegesis” 110.
Alexander, Edward. “Stealing the Holocaust.” The Holocaust and the War of Ideas. New Brunswick, N.J.: Transaction, 1994. 194–206. Bakhtin, Mikhail. “Discourse in the Novel.” The Dialogic Imagination. Trans. Caryl Emerson and Michael Holquist. Austin: U of Texas P, 1981. 259–422. Bauer, Yehuda. “The Place of the Holocaust in Contemporary History.” Holocaust: Religious and Philosophical Implications. Ed. John K. Roth and Michael Berenbaum. New York: Paragon, 1989. 16–44. Besancon, Alain. “Forgotten Com¸ munism.” Commentary 105 (January 1998): 25–29. Blair, Fred. The Ashes of Six Million Jews. Milwaukee: People’s Book Shop, 1946. Braiterman, Zachary. “‘Hitler’s Accomplice?’ The Tragic Theology of Richard Rubenstein.” (God) After Auschwitz. Princeton: Princeton UP, 1998. 87–111. Cohen, Arthur A. The Tremendum: A Theological Interpretation of the Holocaust. New York: Continuum, 1981. Collingwood, R. G. The Idea of History. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1946. Dawidowicz, Lucy S. The Holocaust and the Historians. Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1981. Eisen, Arnold M. The Chosen People in America: A Study in Jewish Religious Ideology. Bloomington: Indiana UP, 1983. Encyclopedia of the Holocaust. Ed. Yisrael Gutman. Vol. 3. New York: Macmillan, 1990. Fackenheim, Emil. To Mend the World: Foundations of Post-Holocaust Jewish Thought. Bloomington: Indiana UP, 1994. Finkelstein, Norman G. The Holocaust Industry: Reﬂections on the Ex-
American Literary History
ploitation of Jewish Suﬀering. New York: Verso, 2000. Finkielkraut, Alain. The Imaginary Jew. Trans. Kevin O’Neill and David Suchoﬀ. Lincoln: U of Nebraska P, 1994. Friedlander, Saul. Nazi Germany and ¨ the Jews: The Years of Persecution, 1933–1939. New York: Harper, 1997. Friedman, Philip. “Was There an ‘Other Germany’?” Roads to Extinction: Essays on the Holocaust. Ed. Ada June Friedman. New York: Jewish Publication Society, 1980. 433–36. Friedrich, Otto. The Kingdom of Auschwitz. New York: Harper, 1994. Gilbert, Martin. The Holocaust: A History of the Jews of Europe during the Second World War. New York: Holt, 1985. Glatzer, Nahum. Franz Rosenzweig: His Life and Thought. New York: Schocken, 1953. Goldhagen, Daniel Jonah. Hitler’s Willing Executioners: Ordinary Germans and the Holocaust. New York: Knopf, 1996. Harsch, Joseph C. “An Unpeaceful Move.” Christian Science Monitor 23 May 1995: 20. Hertzberg, Arthur. The French Enlightenment and the Jews: The Origins of Modern Anti-Semitism. New York: Columbia UP, 1968. Hitler, Adolf. Mein Kampf. 1925. Trans. Ralph Manheim. Boston: Houghton, 1943. Kaplan, Mordecai M. Judaism as a Civilization: Toward a Reconstruction of American Jewish Life. New York: Schocken, 1967.
———. “Rejecting the Chosen People Idea.” Dynamic Judaism: The Essential Writings. Ed. Emanuel S. Goldsmith and Mel Schult. New York: Fordham UP, 1991. 189–94. Katz, Jacob. Out of the Ghetto: The Social Background of Jewish Emancipation, 1770–1870. New York: Schocken, 1973. Katz, Steven T. “The ‘Unique’ Intentionality of the Holocaust.” PostHolocaust Dialogues: Critical Studies in Modern Jewish Thought. New York: New York UP, 1983. 287–317. Kellner, Menahem. “Chosenness, not Chauvinism: Maimonides on the Chosen People.” A People Apart: Chosenness and Ritual in Jewish Philosophical Thought. Ed. Daniel H. Frank. Albany: State U of New York P, 1993. 51–76. Lamm, Norman. “Loving and Hating Jews as Halakhic Categories.” Jewish Tradition and the Nontraditional Jew. Ed. Jacob J. Schacter Northvale, NJ: Aronson, 1992. 139–76. Langer, Lawrence L. Versions of Survival: The Holocaust and the Human Spirit. Albany: State U of New York P, 1982. ———. “Beyond Theodicy: Jewish Victims and the Holocaust.” Admitting the Holocaust: Collected Essays. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1995. 25–30. Langmuir, Gavin I. History, Religion, and Antisemitism. Berkeley: U of California P, 1990. Lazare, Bernard. Antisemitism: Its History and Causes. Trans. Robert S. Wistrich. Lincoln: U of Nebraska Press, 1995. Levenson, Jon D. The Death and Resurrection of the Beloved Son: The Transformation of Child Sacriﬁce in
Jews Without Memory
Judaism and Christianity. New Haven: Yale UP, 1993. Levinas, Emmanuel. Diﬃcult Free´ dom: Essays on Judaism. Trans. Sean Hand. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP, 1990. ———. “From Ethics to Exegesis.” In the Time of the Nations. Trans. Michael B. Smith. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP, 1994. 109–13. Lewis, Paul. “Ulysses at Top as Panel Picks 100 Best Novels.” New York Times 20 July 1998, late ed.: E1. Lindemann, Albert S. Esau’s Tears: Modern Anti-Semitism and the Rise of the Jews. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1997. Linenthal, Edward T. Preserving Memory: The Struggle to Create America’s Holocaust Museum. New York: Viking, 1995. Link, Franz. “Auschwitz and the Literary Imagination: William Styron’s Sophie’s Choice.” Jewish Life and Suﬀering as Mirrored in English and American Literature. Paderborn: Schoningh, 1987. 133–43. ¨ Lipstadt, Deborah E. Denying the Holocaust: The Growing Assault on Truth and Memory. New York: Plume, 1994. Michael, Robert. “Theological Myth, German Antisemitism, and the Holocaust: The Case of Martin Niemoller.” ¨ Holocaust and Genocide Studies 2 (1987): 105–22. Nevin, Thomas R. “A Stranger unto Her People: Weil on Judaism.” Simone Weil: Portrait of a Self-Exiled Jew. Chapel Hill: U of North Carolina P, 1991. 235–59. Novak, David. The Election of Israel: The Idea of the Chosen People. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1995.
Novick, Peter. The Holocaust in American Life. Boston: Houghton, 1999. Ozick, Cynthia. “A Liberal’s Auschwitz.” The Pushcart Prize: Best of the Small Presses. Vol. 1. Ed. Bill Henderson. Yonkers: Pushcart, 1976. 149–53. Pearce, Richard. “Sophie’s Choices.” The Achievement of William Styron. Ed. Robert K. Morris and Irving Malin. Athens: U of Georgia P, 1981. Phillips, Anne. “Universal Pretensions in Political Thought.” Democracy and Diﬀerence. State College: Pennsylvania State UP, 1993. 55–74. Piper, Franciszek. “The Number of Victims.” Anatomy of the Auschwitz Death Camp. Ed. Yisrael Gutman and Michael Berenbaum. Bloomington: Indiana UP, 1994. 61–76. Rapoport, Louis. Stalin’s War Against the Jews: The Doctor’s Plot and the Soviet Solution. New York: Free Press, 1990. Rawls, John. A Theory of Justice. Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1971. Ringelblum, Emmanuel. Polish-Jewish Relations during the Second World War. Trans. Dafna Allon, Danuta Dabrowska, and Dana Keren. Evanston: Northwestern UP, 1992. Rosenfeld, Alvin H. A Double Dying: Reﬂections on Holocaust Literature. Bloomington: Indiana UP, 1980. Ruether, Rosemary. Faith and Fratricide: The Theological Roots of AntiSemitism. New York: Seabury, 1974. Sachar, Howard M. A History of Israel: From the Rise of Zionism to Our Time. New York: Knopf, 1979. Schappes, Morris U., ed. A Documentary History of Jews in the United
American Literary History
States, 1654–1875. 3rd ed. New York: Schocken, 1971. Schoenfeld, Gabriel. “Auschwitz and the Professors.” Commentary 105 (June 1998): 42–46. Schor, Joachim. “Tel Aviv: A Jewish ¨ City Made Up of Jewish Cities.” Tel Aviv: From Dream to City. 1996. Trans. Helen Atkins. London: Reaktion, 1999. 100–61. Segel, Binjamin W. A Lie and a Libel: The History of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. 1926. Trans. Richard S. Levy. Lincoln: U of Nebraska P, 1995. Shapiro, David. Neurotic Styles. New York: Basic, 1965. Smith, Steven B. Spinoza, Liberalism, and the Question of Jewish Identity. New Haven: Yale UP, 1997. Sollors, Werner. “Ethnicity.” Critical Terms for Literary Study. Ed. Frank Lentricchia and Thomas McLaughlin. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 1990. 288–305. Stannard, David E. “Uniqueness as Denial: The Politics of Genocide Scholarship.” Is the Holocaust Unique? Perspectives on Comparative Genocide. Ed. Alan S. Rosenbaum. Boulder: Westview, 1996. 163–208. Styron, William. “Auschwitz.” This Quiet Dust and Other Writings. New York: Random, 1982. 303–04. ———. Sophie’s Choice. New York: Random House, 1979.
Trigano, Shmuel. “The Jews and the Spirit of Europe: A Morphological Approach.” Thinking about the Holocaust: After Half a Century. Ed. Alvin H. Rosenfeld. Bloomington: Indiana UP, 1997. 300–18. Vaksberg, Arkady. Stalin Against the Jews. Trans. Antonia W. Bouis. New York: Knopf, 1994. von Kellenbach, Katharina. AntiJudaism in Feminist Religious Writings. Atlanta: Scholars, 1994. Weil, Simone. The Need for Roots: Prelude to a Declaration of Duties toward Mankind. 1949. Trans. Arthur Wills. New York: Putnam, 1952. ———. Waiting for God. 1950. Trans. Emma Craufurd. New York: Putnam, 1951. Wyschogrod, Michael. The Body of Faith: Judaism as Corporeal Election. New York: Seabury, 1983. Young, James E. Writing and Rewriting the Holocaust: Narrative and the Consequences of Interpretation. Bloomington: Indiana UP, 1988. Zerner, Ruth. “Martin Niemoller, Ac¨ tivist as Bystander: The Oft-Quoted Reﬂection.” Jewish-Christian Encounters over the Centuries. Ed. Marvin Perry and Frederick Schweitzer. New York: Lang, 1994. 328–40.