- The recognizable European: Sebald’s and Tišma’s human geographies of stitches and scars
- Volume | Issue number
- 41 | 2
- Pages (from-to)
- Document type
- Faculty of Humanities (FGw)
- Amsterdam School for Regional, Transnational and European Studies (ARTES)
This article describes how two novels with a strong European presence from the 1990s onward, Aleksandar Tišma’s The Book of Blam and W. G. Sebald’s Austerlitz, offer an understanding of the Yugoslav wars of the 1990s through the prism of the Holocaust. First, a reading of Austerlitz reveals an intriguing lacuna in Sebald’s melancholic map of Europe. I read this lacuna, using Judith Butler’s notion of ‘the recognizable human’, as Sebald’s predominantly Western-European perspective. I then place this next to Aleksandar Tišma’s conception of Srednja Evropa. This European middle space offers more suggestive and ambivalent East-West imagery for post-1989 Europe, and also, as I contend, a more complex framing of the Yugoslav wars with reference to the Holocaust. The essay will then try to assess literary fiction’s renewed claim on the real, particularly with respect to the distribution of ‘the recognizable human’ within the various zones of Europe.
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