Of Memory, History—and Eggplants

Where Memory Leads: My Life

by Saul Friedländer

Other Press, 304 pp., $24.95

Saul Friedländer’s poignant, elegantly written memoir When Memory Comes was published originally in French in 1978 (and in English in 1979). There, in fragmented form and with almost unbearable restraint, written, as Leon Wieseltier put it, in a language that seems “armored against the dissolution it describes,” Friedländer recounted his tale of survival under the Nazis and its lasting effects on his dismembered life. Holocaust memoirs were gaining wider popular attention just then, but the elegance and intellectual probity of Friedländer’s writing endowed it with an especially polished, alluring, and painful quality. Moreover, here was a widely read memoir that differed from other famous works by luminaries such as Elie Wiesel, Primo Levi, and Jean Améry. For one thing, unlike those men who lived through the camps, Friedländer survived the Holocaust far away from Eastern Europe, hidden as a child in a French Catholic boarding school. This experiential difference itself became an object of his stylish retrospection, part of an ongoing split of being, that he described thus: 

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About the Author

Steven E. Aschheim is emeritus professor of history at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. His most recent book is At the Edges of Liberalism: Junctions of European, German, and Jewish History (Palgrave Macmillan). He is the co-editor, with Vivian Liska, of The German-Jewish Experience Revisited (Walter de Gruyter).


ezuesse on August 15, 2017 at 11:41 pm
The "new Trump era" is the flip-side and responsive repudiation by the silent victims of the "Obama era." It is called "democracy" that the failures, abuses and evils of one Presidency, having so alienated and smothered a considerable portion of the electorate, can be voted out of office by a brash and irreverent candidate bringing a whole new broom into play. This is indeed still America, and Trump addresses himself to a whole population that remains as alien to the fashionably alienated university campus as story-book Marsians, but who have been the foundation of the American ethos from the start.

It is a pity that Ascheim mars his excellent review, written with remarkable grace and intelligence, with a nod to topical left populism at the end, to show that he is 'one of the club of the righteous.' One gets tired of this sort of so frequent elitist sloganizing ideological "virtue-signalling."

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