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自分が読んで興味深く感じた英文記事を中心に取り上げる予定です

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Remember something I hadn’t experienced

 



随分前から終戦記念日のある週に、終戦記念ドラマが放映されることがほぼなくなってしまいましたね。NHKが戦争関連を取り上げてくれているのが救いでしょうか。戦争を経験している人が少なくなる中で、我々はどのように戦争を記憶していけばいいのか。少し前の記事ですがそんなことを考えるのにいいきっかけとなり得るNew Yorkerの書評をご紹介します。

Jane Yolenという児童文学作家が自身で3冊目となるホロコーストについての作品Mapping the Bonesが出版されたのに合わせて、彼女の3冊の本の内容と共に、ホロコーストのような悲劇を児童向けの本で取り上げることについて扱っています。動画は最初の作品“The Devil’s Arithmetic”です。

Books
July 23, 2018 Issue
While Jane Yolen’s latest work has points in common with her previous Holocaust novels, it reflects the way the genre she helped to create has changed.
By Ruth Franklin

このレビューを書いている人も自身はユダヤ人でおじいさんはポーランドにいたそうで、ひいお婆さんはそこで亡くなってしまったそうです。親戚にも迫害を経験した人がいてその時にthe paradox of being charged with remembering something I hadn’t experiencedと感じたとあります。この表現から今回のタイトルを使わせてもらいました。

The enormity of the losses my relatives had suffered was palpable in the deep lines around their mouths, the tremors in their hands, the sighs they heaved every time the war years came up. Once, my great-aunt, who had Alzheimer’s disease by the time I came to know her, even grabbed my arm in search of the tattoo that she thought she would find there. But they didn’t often talk in detail about their experiences. When they did, the stories they told were confusing and full of gaps, and I’d complain at having to hear them. I was terrified of my relatives’ emotion and of the crushing responsibility it inflicted on me: the paradox of being charged with remembering something I hadn’t experienced.

子供向けの作品なのにそのような歴史の悲劇を取り上げていいのかという問題はあったそうで、Jane Yolenがホロコーストを扱った最初の作品“The Devil’s Arithmetic”を書くまで随分と時間がかかったそうです。

Why, Kimmel wondered, had no writer for children broached “the ultimate tragedy”? He concluded that it had to do with the irreconcilable tension between the subject and our assumptions about children’s literature. To write about the Holocaust realistically, in all its horror, violates the tacit promise of writing for young readers, he maintained: “not to be too violent, too accusing, too depressing.” At the same time, a story that won’t keep young readers up at night contradicts the historical reality. Kimmel continued, “To put it simply, is mass murder a subject for a children’s novel? Five years ago, we might have said no; ten years ago we certainly would have. Now, however, I think the appearance of a novel set in the center of the lowest circle is only a matter of time.”

It took eleven years. In 1988, Jane Yolen, who is best known for picture books, including a popular series depicting dinosaurs as stand-ins for toddlers (“How Do Dinosaurs Eat Their Food?”), published “The Devil’s Arithmetic.” In it, she came up with an ingenious solution to the problem Kimmel had identified: employing a fantastical framing device that stops the atrocities of life in an extermination camp from being utterly overwhelming for her young readers. The book’s protagonist, a rebellious American preteen named Hannah, is magically whisked back to a Polish shtetl and then, along with its residents, transported to a camp. Four years later, Yolen elaborated on the formula with “Briar Rose,” which plays with the tropes of children’s literature by using “Sleeping Beauty” as a template for a survivor’s story. Her new book, “Mapping the Bones” (Philomel), alludes to “Hansel and Gretel” as it follows two siblings from the Lodz ghetto through a period among a group of partisans and, finally, to a death camp.

発表した当時はアンネの日記で十分ではないかという批判もあったそうですが、本当の悲劇はアンネの日記が終わるところから始まるのですし、また、アメリカ人を主人公にして自分の問題として考えさせたいというのもあったみたいです。

At a convention for librarians soon after its publication, “The Devil’s Arithmetic” was attacked by an editor at a children’s-book journal who asked why readers should waste time on Yolen’s fiction when true chronicles, like Anne Frank’s diary, were available. To resort to fantasy, he said, trivialized the Holocaust. The science-fiction writer Orson Scott Card struck back in the magazine Fantasy and Science Fiction. Yolen’s book, he wrote, might actually be more powerful for its audience than the diary, not only because Frank’s account ends “where the true horror begins” but also because Yolen’s protagonist is a typical American preteen. “The Devil’s Arithmetic” allows readers to imagine themselves in Hannah/Chaya’s place, Card wrote, in “the most terrible part of the most terrible crime mankind is capable of.”

次の部分でもレビュー者の心情the paradox of being charged with remembering something I hadn’t experiencedが出ています。ここではhow to be an adequate witness to something I haven’t myself experiencedとなっています。

I was fourteen when “The Devil’s Arithmetic” was published. Although it won numerous awards, no teacher or librarian ever gave it to me. I wish someone had, because the book speaks in a profound way to the painful paradox I felt then and still feel now: how to be an adequate witness to something I haven’t myself experienced. The only way to do that is through magic, which is precisely the consolation Yolen gives Hannah. The once-sullen preteen ends the book not only appreciating her relatives and their stories but for the first time truly understanding them.

彼女の作品の成功によって似たような作品が出てきたようですが、アイルランド人作家の“The Boy in the Striped Pajamas”という作品に対しては手厳しく批判しています。事実に基づいていないことも書いてあり、しかもユダヤ人ではなくドイツ人の方を主人公にしているというのです。Yolenがリサーチに時間をかけ、想像を絶する体験を表現するための仕掛けとしてファンタジーを導入しているのと対照的だと言います。

Boyne, who is not Jewish, has said that he spent only a few days writing the book. He has defended his approach by saying that the writer’s obligation is to the “emotional truth” and that it’s “presumptuous to assume that from today’s perspective one can truly understand the horrors of the concentration camps.” This seems disingenuous. Whether or not it’s possible to understand another person’s horrific experience, writers and readers of fiction operate under the assumption that such an understanding is worth trying to achieve. Holocaust novels—for adults as well as for young readers—tend to include extensive afterwords detailing the stories on which they are based and the ways, if any, in which they deviate from their sources. Such research alone isn’t sufficient to make a novel effective, but at least it assures the reader that the novel has a basis in reality. Worryingly, Boyne’s book is now often included in Holocaust-studies curricula at schools, and many teachers say that young readers who first learn about the Holocaust by reading it form a drastically ahistorical impression of what took place.

The comparison with Yolen is telling. Not only are her Holocaust books extensively researched, and their departures from historical fact scrupulously noted, but her fantasy framing devices also reflect a kind of imaginative humility about the difficulty of “truly understanding”—something to which Boyne pays only lip service. A book that involves time travel deliberately relinquishes the possibility of being taken as historical fact.

我々日本人の場合は被害者だけではなく、何よりも加害者という立場もあるので、どのように語るのか、は一層難しいものになるかもしれません。とはいってもレビュー者の言うhow to be an adequate witness to something I haven’t myself experiencedという問いかけはより切実な問題として受け止めないといけないのでしょう。

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