Memory And Deep Memory

1214 Words5 Pages
During her talk, Ethel Sternberg said that it made her very happy when students took her memories and stored “it in the back of their heads.” Her words directly relate to Charlotte Delbo’s differentiation between common and deep memory and how this impacts readers of the Holocaust. Common memory refers to works that are a factual retelling and more importantly, leave the reader undisturbed by the work. On the other hand, deep memory leaves an impression and affects the reader in some capacity. One of the challenges that a Holocaust survivor faces when writing about their experiences is invoking this deep memory. Ethel Sternberg referred as storing it “in the back of their heads” while Delbo always repeated, “Il faut donner à voir” or that “they must be made to see”. In order to transmit a sense of the unthinkable, such as the ambiguity of their survival and the reason for the Holocaust, writers have to make the reader feel the uncomfortable reality of this historical event. Authors such as Delbo, Appelfeld, Pagis, and Foer accomplish this by directly engaging their reader by offering no solution to the Holocaust and concluding on an ambivalent note. In this way, these writers elicit deep memory by not offering an answer to the Holocaust and forcing their readers to reconsider the ambiguous qualities of their writings.
In Auschwitz and After, Delbo’s “Marie-Louise” establishes the issue of common memory and how individuals will assume that they understand the Holocaust. The
Get Access