n Literator : Journal of Literary Criticism, Comparative Linguistics and Literary Studies - Trauma in von Edgar Hilsenrath

Volume 32, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 0258-2279
  • E-ISSN: 2219-8237



Theory about trauma and trauma representation can be very useful when interpreting literary texts. The notion of trauma is a complex one and can in general be associated with specific historical experiences, or used as an ontological category to describe fundamental aspects of human existence and identity. From a psycho-analytical perspective the latter refers to a lack within the symbolic order to assimilate and interpret experience in a meaningful way, which consequently leads to a confrontation with the alienating Žižekian real. "Der Nazi & der Friseur" ("The Nazi & the barber") by Edgar Hilsenrath deals, among other issues, with the Holocaust experiences of the main character. The aim of this article is to identify possible signs of trauma, both at the level of narrated events and the narration itself. Besides these signs of historical trauma, it will be demonstrated that the play with identity in the novel can be read against the background of trauma used as ontological category, grounded in the "other", as something existing beyond the boundaries of the symbolic order.

Die teorie rondom trauma en traumarepresentasie kan met vrug gebruik word by die interpretasie van literêre tekste. Trauma is 'n komplekse begrip wat breedweg geassossieer kan word met 'n bepaalde historiese ervaring, óf gebruik kan word as 'n ontologiese kategorie om fundamentele aspekte van die menslike bestaan en identiteit te beskryf. Vanuit 'n psigo-analitiese perspektief dui laasgenoemde op 'n leemte binne die simboliese orde om ervaring sinvol te assimileer en te interpreteer en dit lei tot 'n konfrontasie met die bevreemdende Žižekiaanse "real". "Der Nazi & der Friseur" ("Die Nazi & die haarkapper") deur Edgar Hilsenrath tematiseer onder meer die Holocaustervaring van die hooffiguur. In hierdie artikel word gepoog om moontlike tekens van trauma te identifiseer, sowel op die vlak van die handeling, as op die vlak van die vertelling. Buiten tekens van historiese trauma, sal aangedui word dat die spel met identiteit in die roman gelees kan word teen die agtergrond van trauma as ontologiese kategorie, gegrond in die "ander", as geleë buite die grense van die simboliese orde.

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