The Words They Write

I think there is something to be said about how compelling something can be when it is a first-hand account verses a speculation or a piece of fiction. We have discussed in class how literature that comes from times of war seems to possess a morality and truth that other pieces of writing lack. It is incredibly brave to expose experiences from any situation that left scars, whether it be the battle field (where the WWI poetry found consummation, and The Ghosts May Laugh), or a concentration camp (Vladek from Maus and Primo Levi from “Survival In Auschwitz”).

Depending on the subject I generally find non-fiction to be a bit bland. A lot of words that do not evoke anything of meaning in me. In contrast, works of fiction are usually great reads, because they are just that – fiction, made-up, scenes that come from someone’s imagination. But, in the pieces we have read for class we get fact in addition to true, vivid scenes that in any alternative world (where these events did not actually take place) seem like pure fiction.
In Primo Levi’s “Survival In Auschwitz,” I sometimes wish it was purely fiction I was reading; fore his account is grave, but also incredibly moving. Levi, unlike various other written accounts of the Holocaust, develops his piece in a way so that we are not just presented with an image of the concentration camps, but are given deeper insight into what it was like to be in, and survive, the camps.

A lot of sorrow exists in the world, from civil conflicts, to oppression, internment, torture, etc — it can only be speculated what kind of literature will come from modern conflict. I have no specific crisis to parallel with our class text in this post, because each case of humanitarian havoc, those I have written about and those I have not, are bound to produce some significant stories. I cannot bring myself to isolate one situation (and its hypothetical literature that has not yet been penned), to compare with the historic literature we have read. I do undoubtedly know powerful pieces will be written eventually, by survivor’s in Angola, Sudan, Sri Lanka, Chad, etc — and the list goes on.


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