MEMORY AND TESTIMONY IN EXTRAORDINARY TIMES
Azevedo, Mail Marques de
DATA DE PUBLICAÇÃO
Abstract This paper analyzes two parallel and opposed testimonies of mass annihilation in World War II: Primo Levi’s report of his gruesome experiences in Auschwitz, in The Drowned and the Saved; the testimony of the fire-bombing of Dresden, that killed 130,000 civilians in 1945, recorded by a young American POW, private Kurt Vonnegut Jr, in his novel Slaughterhouse-five. It is basically structured along the phases of the historiographic operation proposed by Paul Ricoeur – testimony and recording of testimonies; questioning of the records and written historical representation of the past – with the objective of drawing conclusions about the role of literature in keeping alive memories that might prevent further atrocities. Steppingstones include the urge to bear witness, the paradoxical links between victims and perpetrators and the choice of literary genders to convey messages. References are made to René Girard’s concept of the scapegoat mechanism as an explanation for the eruption of violence in social groups.