Carole Angier

At The Mind’s Limits

The Philosopher of Auschwitz: Jean Améry and Living with the Holocaust

By

I B Tauris 304pp £20 order from our bookshop

Austria has (or had) an extraordinary hold on its Jews. My refugee parents returned there every summer from the mid-1950s, only fifteen years after having escaped with their lives; others in the family never went back, but felt a tormented hatred that was the remnant of a sort of unrequited love for the rest of their days. Why, I wonder? Was it because the Austro-Hungarian Empire, despite permanent anti-Semitism, allowed Jews to shoot up into its bourgeoisie in remarkable numbers? Or was it simply because of the landscape, which casts a spell on people, as some places do? 

Jean Améry, born Hans Meier in 1912, was an extreme case of an Austria-loving Jew. In fact he was hardly a Jew at all, and was only made one by Hitler. His observant Jewish father died in 1917, long before he could pass on any Jewish culture to his son, while Améry’s mother was only half-Jewish, and had been brought up Catholic, with little or no Jewish culture to pass on. 

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • 'Volume five, then, but still no end in sight. Sandbrook is clearly enjoying himself so much he can’t bear the seri… ,
    • 'By the end of the book something so weighty, stylish and impressive has been built up that one feels far nearer to… ,
    • 'Her ensuing psychotic episode is described so convincingly ... that the reader will wonder if Dobrakovová did not… ,
    • 'The perspectives complement and contest one another, amounting to a glorious, atmospheric set of ventriloquisms.'… ,
    • RT : I reviewed The Testaments for . I will not be taking any questions at this time. ,
    • 'The Testaments is, first and foremost, a manual of resistance ... a type of resistance that is organised, articula… ,
    • 'I did occasionally wonder whether Rupert Murdoch ... might have instructed his editors at William Collins to produ… ,