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

    • 'The characters in many of these stories are trapped in the obsessive present tense of their own thoughts; in the m… ,
    • 'Libraries, for much of their existence, have embodied in microcosm many of the characteristics of the totalitarian… ,
    • 'Moss and Cynthia buy several properties through which to launder their ill-gotten gains, take lots of drugs, have… ,
    • 'Never mind the imperial cult. This is the cult of Boris. What happened to Rome?' From the LR archive:… ,
    • Thirty-two years ago this month, we published Muriel Spark's short story, 'A Playhouse Called Remarkable' Read it… ,
    • Time travel, bicycles and white horses populate @WomackPhilip's roundup of children's books by @marcussedgwick,… ,
    • RT : Joanna Kavenna’s ‘Cooking with Trotsky’s Frying Pan’ in June’s is the most well written and interesting… ,