The Language of Equivocation: Aharon Appelfeld's 'Badenheim 1939'

Dr Rachel Leah Birati
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The setting of the novel is in a spa in central Europe, typical of the vacation resorts assimilated Jews frequented for the restorative values of their mineral springs and their music festivals. Appelfeld deals with that segment of European Jewry that was so deeply immersed in German culture and so thoroughly assimilated that it was unable to envisage the tragedy that befell it or to link it to Jewish apocalyptic history. The brilliance of the novel lies in the fact that 'screams are turned into whispers.' The equivocal language persists throughout the book through nature behaving in a strange way as if in sympathy with the pervasive 'foggy' atmosphere and by way of striking metaphors and analogies. Ironically, it is the reader, the spectator who has the advantage of distance, who is aware, unlike the vacationers, of the trap into which they are about to fall; and hence the mastery of Appelfeld's portrayal.

Keywords: Language Oriented, History Related, Appelfeld's Masterpiece, 'Screams turning into whispers'
Stream: Literature, Literary Studies
Presentation Type: Virtual Presentation in English
Paper: A paper has not yet been submitted.

Dr Rachel Leah Birati

Honorary Research Associate, School of Historical Studies, Monash University

Dr Birati taught Yr 12 English before embarking on University teaching. Academic qualifications include: a B.A with an Honours in English (Monash University); a Master in Education (Monash University); a Graduate Diploma in Humanities with a major in Spanish (Latrobe University) and a PhD in Hebrew literature (The University of Melbourne). She was instrumental in the establishment of the Hebrew department at the Australian Centre for Jewish Civilisation at Monash University where she coordinated and taught Hebrew language and literature, offering a major in the subject. She also introduced and taught the subject: Literature of Destruction and Redemption. Dr Birati was president of the Australian Association of Jewish Studies. Among her published articles in the refereed journal AJJS are: 'The Historical Development of Modern Hebrew Literature, 'Looking at the Holocaust through Hebrew and other Jewish literature, 'The Shtetl in the fiction of three Jewish writers , 'Literature, Hebrew literature and the theory of communication', 'The Yatir Evening Express' and others in the process of publication. She is currently an Honorary Research Associate of the School of Historical Studies at Monash University and on the Editorial Board of 'Women in Judaism.'

Ref: H05P0759