Along the Edge of Annihilation
The Collapse and Recovery of Life in the Holocaust Diary
- Published: 1999
- Subject Listing: Jewish Studies
- Bibliographic information: 328 pp., notes, bibliog., index
- Territorial rights: world
- Series: A Samuel and Althea Stroum Book
This extraordinary book is based on more than fifty diaries of Jewish Holocaust victims of all ages, written while the events described were actually taking place. Many of the writers did not survive. Patterson’s book is unique not only in the number of diaries and original texts it examines but also in the questions it raises and in the approach it takes from within Jewish traditions and contexts.
Patterson has organized his book around a series of themes that lead to a deeper understanding of the meaning of these works for both their writers and their readers, affirming the Holocaust diary as a form of spiritual resistance. Throughout, he draws upon his impressive knowledge of Jewish texts, ancient and modern—Torah, Talmud, Midrash, Zohar, the medieval commentators, the Hasidic masters, and modern Jewish philosophers and thinkers.
In Along the Edge of Annihilation David Patterson illuminates the spiritual and physical devastation experienced by the Jews of Europe during the Holocaust, and shows how they chose life and the spirit of life in the midst of the Inferno.
David Patterson holds the Bornblum Chair of Excellence in Judaic Studies and is Director of the Judaic Studies Program at the University of Memphis in Memphis, Tennessee. His numerous books include Sun Turned to Darkness: Memory and Recovery in the Holocaust Memoir; In Dialogue and Dilemma with Elie Wiesel; and The Shriek of Silence: A Phenomenology of the Holocaust Novel.
“Patterson helps us to understand the various factors that motivated individuals to take up their pens even at the risk of their lives. One not only gets a profound sense of what Jewish victims experienced in their souls but at the same time one learns a great deal about Judaism and the Holocaust from an author who is imbued with a lofty sense of the moral, ethical, and spiritual grandeur of the Jewish faith. Christians and Jews will be deeply moved and deeply educated by this work.”—Milton Teichman, Marist College
The Writer and the Writing
The Consciousness of the Book
The Measure of Time
The Chronicle of the Holy
The Crumbling of Creation
The Fragmentation of Home and Family
The Assault on the Feminine
The Suffocation of the Child
The Human Image Defiled
Death and the Death of Death
Clinging to Life
Reopening Remarks: The Assignation of the Reader
Bibliography of Works Cited