Sheltering from the Pain of Others

Trauma-Dynamics in Ida Fink's Holocaust Short Stories

Authors

  • Anna Menyhért

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.23777/sn.0323/art_amen01

Keywords:

Holocaust literature, Ida Fink, trauma and literature, indifference

Abstract

In this paper I will analyse the short stories of Ida Fink, a Polish writer and Holocaust survivor, focusing on how she writes about traumatic memories, showing the perspectives of the victims and survivors, as well as listeners, witnesses, and bystanders. Relatively little has been written about Ida Fink’s works apart from Polish literary studies, and even less from a trauma studies perspective. This paper aims to fill this gap. I will show, through psychologically oriented close readings of several short stories, how Ida Fink presents various trauma dynamics, trauma moments as well as denial, indifference, and the inability to listen to the trauma of others. Some protagonists attempt to process and integrate their traumatic experiences through sharing and storytelling, but they are constantly rejected by those around them. Observers and bystanders often see the traumatized as “the other”, and they don’t acknowledge their painful memories. Other stories show how changes in social norms brought about the war contributed to the ruptures of societal networks and the shattering of social norms, leading, through silencing trauma, to the formation of collective traumatisation, where the social environment, despite best individual intentions, invalidates and trivialises the traumatized person's experience. On the other hand, at another level, the stories can become an experience of working through collective historical trauma for the reader.

Author Biography

Anna Menyhért

Anna Menyhért is a researcher, writer, university professor, and teacher of creative writing. Her research fields are trauma studies, women’s writing, literary theory, cultural studies, and memory studies. She has published academic monographs, poetry, fiction, and books for children. She studied in Budapest, Moscow, London, North Carolina, and Amsterdam. She received her PhD in 2002 and gave her habilitation lectures in 2011 in literary trauma studies at Eötvös Loránd University in Budapest. Currently she is Professor of Trauma Studies at the Budapest University of Jewish Studies, a Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of Advanced Studies in Kőszeg, and a Visiting Professor at the University of Florence. She was a research fellow at the Wiesenthal Institute for Holocaust Studies in Vienna (2020–2021), a Marie Curie fellow at the University of Amsterdam (2016–2018), and the PI of the Trauma and Gender in Literature and Culture Research Group at Eötvös Loránd University (2011–2015).

Email: menyhertanna@gmail.com

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Published

2023-12-13

How to Cite

Menyhért, Anna. 2023. “Sheltering from the Pain of Others: Trauma-Dynamics in Ida Fink’s Holocaust Short Stories”. S: I.M.O.N. Shoah: Intervention. Methods. Documentation. 10 (3):46-63. https://doi.org/10.23777/sn.0323/art_amen01.