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Poetry after Auschwitz: An Italian Perspective

Gaunt, Bethany Sarah Gaunt; (2018) Poetry after Auschwitz: An Italian Perspective. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

This thesis offers a critical engagement with poetry about Auschwitz in all its various permutations, addressing issues such as why poetry is a particularly valuable form of Holocaust expression, and why different social groups have historically chosen to, and continue to, write poetry about Auschwitz. Adopting an analytical approach, this work foregrounds the poetical works themselves, in order to demonstrate how poetry facilitates an engagement with the past, for both the writer and reader (or indeed, singer and listener). Beginning with the work of those who experienced the Nazi camps first-hand, chapter one discusses the poetry of two survivors, Edith Bruck (b. 1932) and Primo Levi (1919-1987), identifying three driving motivations behind survivor-writing: to memorialise, to inform and to assist in the writer’s cathartic rehabilitation after Auschwitz. The second chapter offers a comparative analysis of two poems by Salvatore Quasimodo (1901-1968) and two of Francesco Guccini's (b. 1940) canzoni d'autore, exploring how these two artists introduced Auschwitz into their respective genres, and how they interpreted and enacted what they perceived as art's post-Holocaust imperative: to rebuild mankind. Chapter three engages with Italian translations of Paul Celan's (1920-1970) famous 'Todesfuge', exploring the significance of translators in the dissemination of Holocaust writing, and their role as expert intermediate readers. The chapter champions reading multiple translations in parallel, and demonstrates the ways in which different translators foreground different elements of the original work. Finally, chapter four offers an assessment of online poetry about Auschwitz. By focusing on Italian poetry website “Scrivere” and the work of Giorgia Spurio (b. 1986), this chapter discusses the democratisation of art online, the extra-textual possibilities the internet offers, and how these contemporary poems build upon previous Holocaust poems, perpetuating the poetical discussion of the Holocaust for a new generation of readers.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: Poetry after Auschwitz: An Italian Perspective
Event: UCL
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Third party copyright material has been removed from ethesis.
Keywords: Holocaust, Shoah, Italy, Poetry, Translation, Online poetry, Survivor, Canzone d'autore, cantautore, Salvatore Quasimodo, Paul Celan, Primo Levi, Edith Bruck
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10055775
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