At Memory's Edge: After-Images of the Holocaust in Contemporary Art and Architecture

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9780300080322: At Memory's Edge: After-Images of the Holocaust in Contemporary Art and Architecture

James Young explores Germany's fraught efforts to memorialize the Holocaust, and also asks how late 20th century artists can remember an event they never knew directly but which is shaped through images in films, photographs and museums.

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Review:

At Memory's Edge is an ambitious and provocative collection of essays with topics ranging from Art Spiegelman's Maus books to, most notably, the Berlin Holocaust Memorial. Author James E. Young, an American professor of English and Judaic Studies, was the only foreigner and the only Jew on the committee that selected the design for the German memorial. His behind-the-scenes account of this project's development offers sophisticated answers to some very difficult questions. Young doggedly asks how Berlin can remember a group of people who are no longer at home there, and how Germany can--or should--remember the extermination of Jews once committed in that nation's name. The author's answers to such questions may appear excessively dogmatic to some readers. Early in the book, for example, Young asserts that "memory-work about the Holocaust cannot, must not, be redemptive in any fashion." But his rationale for such sweeping pronouncements is very persuasive. The book is also lavishly illustrated with photographs and architectural drawings that will be a great value to readers who accept the challenge that Young has assumed: "the task of contemplating how to understand a formative historical tragedy of which first-hand memory is rapidly fading." --Michael Joseph Gross

From the Back Cover:

"The brilliance of James Young's theoretical insights is matched by his outstanding knowledge of the vast array of representations of the Shoah and by his artistic and literary sensitivity. At Memory's Edge will become an influential book."—Saul Friedländer "A valuable study."—New York Review of Books "Young's book needs no extra boost, and yet this recent debate over the meaning of German nationalism gives his subject another dimension of topicality, proving again how accurately discussions of art can pinpoint all that's buried just beneath the surface of everyday life."—Robert Leiter, New York Times Book Review "A beautifully written and illustrated book that tells us something profound about the featured artistic projects and their contexts."—Natasha Lehrer, Jewish Quarterly "This book provides for further study of the nature and meanings of memory, and on the way contemporary artists contribute to the broad and growing discussion of what memory is." —Jay Winter, Art Bulletin

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