The Philosopher of Auschwitz : Jean Amery and Living with the Holocaust
by Irene Heidelberger-Leonard, Anthea Bell
Editor: I.B.Tauris & Co. Ltd.
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Who was Jean Amery ?Victim or SurvivorAgnostic or Jewish ?Austrian or exile ?Philosopher or journalistJean Amery is not easy to classify, but what this biography shows (the first in all languages) is that he is more – much more – than some enigmatic cult figure: he is one of the most influential survivors of the Holocaust and one of the most provocative writers and thinkers of the twentieth century.Jean Amery – born Hans Maier in Austria in 1912 – is perhaps best known for his work,”within the limits of the spirit”, one of the central texts on which Amery himself describes as “the subjective state of the victim”.But as Irene Heidelberger-Leonard’s book reveals, Amery was not just a “professional concentration camping”, as he sometimes nicknamed himself in a mixture of derision and resignation.Relying on a wide range of unpublished documents, Heidelberger-Leonard illuminates the tumultuous life of this complex character, from his bourgeois origins in Austria before the war; he fled his native country to join the resistance; his imprisonment in Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen; his possible suicide in 1978.This definitive biography examines how Amery grappled with what it meant to be a victim and survivor of concentration camps and what his experiences reveal about the tension between human dignity and the reality of horror.Focusing primarily on Amery’s literary works, one of the great strengths of the book is to explore how Amery’s life and thought are inextricably linked to his writings.This biography has brilliantly demonstrated Amery’s importance in its own time and shows how its relevance extends far beyond that of the past.
Irene Heidelberger-Leonard, Anthea Bell – The Philosopher of Auschwitz : Jean Amery and Living with the Holocaust – Free
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