The Ethics of Metawitnessing in Yannick Haenel’s Jan Karski. / Duffy, Helena.

In: Dapim: Studies on the Holocaust , Vol. 32, No. 1, 22.03.2018, p. 1-21.

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The Ethics of Metawitnessing in Yannick Haenel’s Jan Karski. / Duffy, Helena.

In: Dapim: Studies on the Holocaust , Vol. 32, No. 1, 22.03.2018, p. 1-21.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Duffy, Helena. / The Ethics of Metawitnessing in Yannick Haenel’s Jan Karski. In: Dapim: Studies on the Holocaust . 2018 ; Vol. 32, No. 1. pp. 1-21.

BibTeX

@article{c0fa0f3adeb842bb823a8c607e1b44a8,
title = "The Ethics of Metawitnessing in Yannick Haenel{\textquoteright}s Jan Karski",
abstract = "The article addresses the concept of metawitnessing, as thematized by Yannick Haenel{\textquoteright}s novel, Jan Karski (2009). The hybrid text, which breaches the border between biography and fiction, narrates the story of the eponymous Polish resister whose diplomatic missions have earned him the title of the “man who tried to stop the Holocaust”. Taking as the starting point the heated debate provoked by the book{\textquoteright}s troubled generic status and problematic relationship with the historical record, I read Jan Karski as a self–conscious meditation upon the ethics and mechanics of (meta)witnessing. I also consider it as both an inquiry into the future of Holocaust memory in the post–witness era and an apology of testimony, which, unlike History, has the power to voice the victim{\textquoteright}s feelings and trauma. Finally, by testifying to a wrong — or rather a series of wrongs —, Haenel{\textquoteright}s text may be viewed as an attempt to bear witness to Karski{\textquoteright}s and, less directly, the Jews{\textquoteright} differend, which consists not only in the victim{\textquoteright}s being wronged but also in her/his inability to voice the injustice s/he has experienced. Framed with the work of, on the one hand, French philosophers such as Lyotard and Derrida, and, on the other, Holocaust historians such as Dan Stone and Annette Wieviorka, my discussion raises the question of the ethics of Haenel{\textquoteright}s tribute to Karski and extension of the responsibility for the Shoah to witnesses and bystanders. In the conclusions I therefore reflect on the possibility that Haenel{\textquoteright}s project may be amplifying the wrongs already suffered by the victims or, alternatively, is a quest for new means of expressing the violence inflicted on the Polish hero and those whose cause Karski tirelessly championed.",
keywords = "Jan Karski, Yannick Haenel, Metawitnessing, Postmodernism, Claude Lanzmann, Holocaust, Ethics, Jean-Francois Lyotard, Differend",
author = "Helena Duffy",
year = "2018",
month = mar,
day = "22",
doi = "10.1080/23256249.2018.1432254",
language = "English",
volume = "32",
pages = "1--21",
journal = "Dapim: Studies on the Holocaust ",
issn = "2325-6249",
publisher = "Taylor and Francis",
number = "1",

}

RIS

TY - JOUR

T1 - The Ethics of Metawitnessing in Yannick Haenel’s Jan Karski

AU - Duffy, Helena

PY - 2018/3/22

Y1 - 2018/3/22

N2 - The article addresses the concept of metawitnessing, as thematized by Yannick Haenel’s novel, Jan Karski (2009). The hybrid text, which breaches the border between biography and fiction, narrates the story of the eponymous Polish resister whose diplomatic missions have earned him the title of the “man who tried to stop the Holocaust”. Taking as the starting point the heated debate provoked by the book’s troubled generic status and problematic relationship with the historical record, I read Jan Karski as a self–conscious meditation upon the ethics and mechanics of (meta)witnessing. I also consider it as both an inquiry into the future of Holocaust memory in the post–witness era and an apology of testimony, which, unlike History, has the power to voice the victim’s feelings and trauma. Finally, by testifying to a wrong — or rather a series of wrongs —, Haenel’s text may be viewed as an attempt to bear witness to Karski’s and, less directly, the Jews’ differend, which consists not only in the victim’s being wronged but also in her/his inability to voice the injustice s/he has experienced. Framed with the work of, on the one hand, French philosophers such as Lyotard and Derrida, and, on the other, Holocaust historians such as Dan Stone and Annette Wieviorka, my discussion raises the question of the ethics of Haenel’s tribute to Karski and extension of the responsibility for the Shoah to witnesses and bystanders. In the conclusions I therefore reflect on the possibility that Haenel’s project may be amplifying the wrongs already suffered by the victims or, alternatively, is a quest for new means of expressing the violence inflicted on the Polish hero and those whose cause Karski tirelessly championed.

AB - The article addresses the concept of metawitnessing, as thematized by Yannick Haenel’s novel, Jan Karski (2009). The hybrid text, which breaches the border between biography and fiction, narrates the story of the eponymous Polish resister whose diplomatic missions have earned him the title of the “man who tried to stop the Holocaust”. Taking as the starting point the heated debate provoked by the book’s troubled generic status and problematic relationship with the historical record, I read Jan Karski as a self–conscious meditation upon the ethics and mechanics of (meta)witnessing. I also consider it as both an inquiry into the future of Holocaust memory in the post–witness era and an apology of testimony, which, unlike History, has the power to voice the victim’s feelings and trauma. Finally, by testifying to a wrong — or rather a series of wrongs —, Haenel’s text may be viewed as an attempt to bear witness to Karski’s and, less directly, the Jews’ differend, which consists not only in the victim’s being wronged but also in her/his inability to voice the injustice s/he has experienced. Framed with the work of, on the one hand, French philosophers such as Lyotard and Derrida, and, on the other, Holocaust historians such as Dan Stone and Annette Wieviorka, my discussion raises the question of the ethics of Haenel’s tribute to Karski and extension of the responsibility for the Shoah to witnesses and bystanders. In the conclusions I therefore reflect on the possibility that Haenel’s project may be amplifying the wrongs already suffered by the victims or, alternatively, is a quest for new means of expressing the violence inflicted on the Polish hero and those whose cause Karski tirelessly championed.

KW - Jan Karski

KW - Yannick Haenel

KW - Metawitnessing

KW - Postmodernism

KW - Claude Lanzmann

KW - Holocaust

KW - Ethics

KW - Jean-Francois Lyotard

KW - Differend

U2 - 10.1080/23256249.2018.1432254

DO - 10.1080/23256249.2018.1432254

M3 - Article

VL - 32

SP - 1

EP - 21

JO - Dapim: Studies on the Holocaust

JF - Dapim: Studies on the Holocaust

SN - 2325-6249

IS - 1

ER -