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At The Mind's Limits

Jean Amery

578 ratings by Goodreads
ISBN 10: 0805207619 / ISBN 13: 9780805207613
Published by Schocken, 1986
Condition: Good Soft cover
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Bibliographic Details

Title: At The Mind's Limits

Publisher: Schocken

Publication Date: 1986

Binding: Paperback

Book Condition: Good

Edition: No Edition Stated.

About this title

Synopsis:

At the Mind's Limits is the story of one man's struggle to understand the reality of horror. In five autobiographical essays, Jean Amery describes his survival -- mental, moral, and physical -- through the enormity of the Holocaust. Above all, this masterful record of introspection tells of a young Viennese intellectual's fervent vision of human nature and the betrayal of that vision. Amery depicts the futile attempts of the intellect to cope with the overwhelming realities of Auschwitz. His torture is perceived as a reduction of self to the purely physical, with an accompanying loss of faith in the world. He struggles to come to terms with exile from his homeland as well as his feelings upon returning to the country of his persecutors. Finally, Amery, once the totally peripheral Jew, explains how complete acceptance of his Jewish identity, as compelled by his experiences in Auschwitz, is the only way in which he can regain human dignity.

Review:

Because Auschwitz was among the most brutal of the concentration camps, ruled by capricious, pure force and not by any discernable political or social structure, the intellectual there "was alone with his intellect ... and there was no social reality that could support and confirm it." In other words, there was no place for the intellect to act, outside of the confines of a person's own skull. Jean Amery's At The Mind's Limits is a focused meditation on the position of the intellectual placed in "a borderline situation, where he has to confirm the reality and effectiveness of his intellect, or to declare its impotence: in Auschwitz." In the camp, Amery writes, "The intellect very abruptly lost its basic quality: its transcendence." Considering this loss, Amery describes his own experience of torture, his reactions of resentment, anger, and bitterness, his loss of any vital sense of metaphysical questions, and his search for some way to maintain moral character and Jewish identity in the absence of such consciousness. --Michael Joseph Gross

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