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The second essay for the semester is concerned with the period between the rise of Nazism and the end of WWII, about either the books by von Rezzori or Kertesz or the film Sophie Scholl. Please note the minimum length of 1500 words, and develop your argument through examples accordingly.

Note the firm due date of Friday, Mar. 30 (to allow a little more time for writings about Fatelessness).

Textual note: it appears that variations of the word are all in use: anti-semitism, anti-Semitism, and antisemitism. If you write about von Rezzori's book, you should follow the spelling used in his title, with the hyphen and caps, but if you write about one of the other works, any spelling is acceptable so long as it is used consistently throughout the paper.

Prompts for Memoirs of an Anti-Semite:

  • The narrator, who goes by various names in different stories, is presumably the "anti-Semite" of the book's title. However, there are others holding anti-Semitic attitudes in various stories. Choose at least two of these and compare their attitudes with those of the narrator. How would you classify the novel's cast of anti-Semites? Why all the variations?
  • In the last section of the book, von Rezzori argues that words are insufficient to account for the changes in a person's identity (256); and yet doing so is the entire point of a memoir. Perhaps the changes described throughout the narrative illustrate an alternation between empathy and distance; or another polarity might be that between conformity and independence (see 148). Choosing one of these polarities, or another which you have observed, write about at least two incidents from the book which illustrate them.

Prompts about Sophie Scholl and Fatelessness to be posted.

  • For either von Rezzori or Kertesz: Kertesz was critical of the 1993 film Schindler's List, describing it as kitsch: "I regard as kitsch any representation of the Holocaust that is incapable of understanding or unwilling to understand the organic connection between our own deformed mode of life and the very possibility of the Holocaust." (Wikipedia). Drawing from either novel or from both, how do you see the book(s) as connecting the pre-WWII way of life with the possibility of the Holocaust?

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