Immigrant Memories of Healing: Textual and Pictorial Images in Erika Gottlieb’s Becoming My Mother’s Daughter

Erika Gottlieb’s narrative is a transgenerational family memoir, a search for identity, and also the testimony of the protagonist Eva Steinbach, the thinly disguised authorial self, a child survivor of the Holocaust in Hungary, which provides a larger historical perspective for the personal narrative written in Canada. The satisfactory completion of the tasks involved in these three strands of Gottlieb’s life writing depends on how successfully memories can be preserved without allowing them to paralyze the remembering subject. Since these three themes are inseparable from each other, they can only result in self-understanding and healing for the author/protagonist if they evolve together. At the same time, Gottlieb’s narrative is intricately linked to her artwork, which calls for an intermedial discussion of the book to reveal how the graphic images further enhance the protagonist’s struggle to comprehend herself. While the multi-layered text is constructed in a non-linear structure, the sketches and paintings incorporated in it are employed to fulfill various functions. They serve both as illustrations of characters and locations at times, while on other occasions they are made to serve as structural devices. When describing or representing existing artwork, the text also turns into ekphrastic writing at certain points, thus multiplying the interpretative possibilities opened up and the aesthetic impressions created. (MP)

The Murdochian Moral Vision and the Art of Contemporary Cinema

Book review:

Bolton, Lucy. Contemporary Cinema and the Philosophy of Iris Murdoch. Edinburgh: Edinburgh UP, 2019. 228 pages. ISBN 9781474416399. Pbk. £75.00.

Stephen Daldry’s The Reader in Chekhov’s Mirror

This essay is devoted to a discussion of Stephen Daldry and David Hare’s film adaptation of Bernhard Schlink’s critically acclaimed but controversial Holocaust novel, The Reader (1995; 2008), through one of the film’s many intertexts—Anton Chekhov’s “The Lady with the Little Dog” (1899). The scenes related to this short story are crucial to the understanding of Daldry and Hare’s filmic reinterpretation of Schlink’s novel, since they form the mise en abyme of Hanna and Michael’s ambiguous story and stalled self-reflection. The parallels and contrasts of Chekhov’s and the filmmakers’ narratives call viewers’ attention to the ambivalences inherent in the main characters’ representation. Inspired by a passing reference to Chekhov in Schlink’s novel, the scenes alluding to “The Lady with the Little Dog” provide a metanarrative in The Reader, and, as such, reflect the adaptors’ heightened sensitivity to the ambivalences and complexities of reflecting the trauma of the Holocaust—not only for “the second generation” of Germans after World War II.  (AR)

Of Monsters and Migrants: On the Loss of Sanctuaries in Literature as a Parable of Biopolitics in the Twentieth and Twenty-First Centuries

To understand the cultural predecessors to the dehumanizing metaphors found in current populist rhetoric, it is beneficial to revisit some of the literary uses of such metaphors in the context of migration, xenophobia, and the notion of sanctuary. By rereading Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (1818), Victor Hugo’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1830), and Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1897) in light of these paradigms, the article explores the links between the monster and the city as sanctuary: while Mary Shelley’s novel shows us the classical scenario of the undesirable being banned from human community, Stoker’s vampire breaks into the sanctuary of both city and nation state, reflecting time-worn fears of invasion and contamination by the racial Other. Hugo demonstrates a third common form of undesirability within the sanctuary, calling into mind Foucault’s concept of inclusion within the city/nation state while also being excluded from it. This article bridges between these texts and prominent scenarios in the treatment of migrants today. (PA)