Mapping Planet Auschwitz: Non-Mimetic Writing and the Holocaust in Anglo-American Fiction
The discourse surrounding the Holocaust is one of the unapproachable, the unknowable, and the unimaginable. Over the last seventy years the Holocaust has been compared to an earthquake, another planet, another universe, a rupture, or void. It has been said to be beyond language, or else have its own incomprehensible tongue, beyond art, and beyond thought. In fact, though the terminology differs, it has consistently been rendered as Other. Thus it seems peculiar that very few studies have been conducted on Holocaust literature which is non-mimetic in nature; that is, the impulse of literature which is not concerned with mimicking reality but which routinely engages the Other, the uncanny, the grotesque, and the inhuman. Certainly there is no shortage of primary material. This thesis will establish a foundation for future discussion of the non-mimetic and the Holocaust, surveying a wide range of common themes and approaches to the genocide in Anglo-American fiction. By analysing this fiction, this thesis aims to examine contemporary relationships and attitudes to the Holocaust, revealing how the writers (and perhaps their societies) comprehend the incomprehensible, and in what ways Holocaust memory has changed and is changing, particularly in the modern era. The texts in this thesis are drawn from a wide range of authors and hierarchies within the literary sphere, as such in order to impose a structure of sometimes disparate narratives, I have proposed several themes. A number of theoretical readings have been consolidated into the thesis from mainstream Holocaust studies, trauma studies, science fiction studies, and more; with some texts receiving their first in depth critical analysis. Ultimately, this thesis aims to prove that non-mimetic fiction can relativise the traumatic occurrences without normalising them. Thus, though a vastly understudied body of work in this context, non-mimetic fiction is in fact a crucial component in our understanding our relationship to the Holocaust, and perhaps to traumatic events more generally.