“Today, I am not sure that what I wrote is true. I am certain it is truthful.” Thus Charlotte Delbo (1913–1985) prefaces None of Us Will Return, her meditation on life and death during and after the Holocaust. The first volume of her trilogy, Auschwitz and After, None of Us Will Return is a memoir that combines straightforward recounting, poetry and prose poems, with self-conscious reflection on the acts of memory and testimony.
Arrested in Paris in 1942 by the French police and turned over to the Gestapo as a member of the French Resistance, Delbo was sent with a convoy of other Frenchwomen to Auschwitz-Birkenau, and then to Ravensbrück. Her writing uses a powerful arsenal of literary tools to testify to her own suffering, that of her compatriots and that of the Jewish women whose experiences she witnessed. The trilogy probes the dimensions of Nazi atrocity and its aftermath, and poses complex questions about the adequacy of language to carry that burden and the ability of the psyche to bear extreme trauma. The paradox conveyed by the epigraph to None of Us Will Return—at once uncertain and certain of the truthfulness of her writing—expresses the shock and disbelief she felt both upon arriving at Auschwitz and later, looking back on it once she had returned to normal life.
The epigraph may also be said to represent the place and the license of literature in representing the Holocaust: both not true and true, combining memory and imagination, history and invention, to reflect upon the past and its philosophical, moral and psychological implications. Like Delbo, many women who experienced and survived Nazi atrocity gave literary form to their experiences, memories and reflections. Writing in a variety of genres, including fiction, poetry, drama and memoir, they utilized a range of literary strategies and presented a variety of themes. Their writing is often at odds with literature written by men, where women frequently figure more peripherally and in limited roles. In addition, women who were not victimized by the Nazi genocide, either because they did not live in Europe, or were born later, began to write literature about the Holocaust, based on research rather than personal memory.
Studies of women and the Holocaust, or gender and the Holocaust, are part of a dynamic, evolving field. As part of literary studies, their approaches draw upon the many other fields and methodological approaches, such as history of the Holocaust, gender history, psychology, trauma theory, literary theory, life writing, women’s studies, religious studies and gender theory.
Already during the war years, and under the shadow of Nazism, Jewish women gave narrative form to their experiences, writing wartime diaries and journals. The most famous of these, the diary of Anne Frank, takes the form of letters to a confidante and traces the daily life and inner life of an adolescent girl, hiding in a secret room in Holland with her secular German Jewish family. Although Frank was eventually deported to Bergen Belsen, where she perished, her father later retrieved and edited his daughter’s diary, which was published posthumously. This abbreviated diary stressed the universal, rather than the Jewish, aspects of Frank’s sensibilities, omitting explicit references to antisemitism. Not until the 1990s was the diary published in its entirety. Evidence of a talented, thoughtful girl, Frank’s diary was the inspiration for plays and films depicting her life in hiding. The journals of Etty Hillesum similarly reflect life in the Netherlands under German occupation. Already a young adult by the time antisemitic acts affected her life, Hillesum’s journals reflect her struggle to come to terms philosophically and psychologically with the events of her life. Her writing was published almost two decades after her death in Auschwitz.
Diaries offer a unique perspective on the events of the Holocaust. Much more strongly than memoirs whose authors have survived Nazi atrocity and were able to supplement their subjective knowledge of the Holocaust with more expansive information, diarists convey the chaos and confusion of the time, the lack of reliable information and the hope—most frequently in vain—that the writer and her family would survive the war. The retrospective lens of memoirs dictates a selectivity of remembered events, while diaries often include material that might later be forgotten or discounted as irrelevant.
The process of giving written form to memory in the form of memoirs began almost immediately after the war, and continues into the twenty-first century. Capturing both individual and collective experiences, narrating events from a subjective and of necessity limited standpoint, memoirs about the Holocaust occupy a space between imaginative literature and history. Women’s memoirs provide details about lived experience during the Holocaust, the inner lives of the women who wrote them, remembered accounts of others who perished and the workings of traumatic memory. Early memoirs, such as those by Rachel Auerbach, Gisella Perl (1900–1988) and Olga Lengyel (1908–2001), capture the sense of chaos both during and after the war. One of the two survivors of the Oneg Shabbat, the secret project to document Jewish life in the Warsaw ghetto headed by Emanuel Ringelblum (1900–1944), the Polish-born Auerbach wrote poignantly and eloquently in Yiddish about the world whose destruction she witnessed and narrowly escaped. Both during and after the war, Auerbach’s writing is marked by an attention to the details of everyday life and an almost unbearable compassion for the victims of Nazism. Perl, an obstetrician in Sighet before the German occupation of Hungary, was ordered to establish a ghetto hospital. With the deportation of the ghetto inhabitants to Auschwitz, Perl was ordered to serve as the camp gynecologist. From this unique position, she witnessed the psychological and physical toll of German atrocity on the women at Auschwitz. Lengyel’s memoir offers a detailed and analytical account of her eight months in Auschwitz-Birkenau. Born into an assimilated Hungarian Jewish family, Lengyel trained as a surgeon’s assistant before her deportation to Auschwitz. Her narrative charts a growing recognition of the deliberate duplicity of the Germans that duped the Jews into collaborating with their own destruction. Lengyel recounts that while working in the infirmary at Auschwitz-Birkenau she killed newborns to save the lives of their mothers. She outlines the social system that developed in the camp, the sexual exploitation of women and her role as a messenger in the camp underground.
Like diaries and chronicles written during the war, early memoirs offer a sense of the diversity of Jewish life and Jewish responses to the German onslaught as well as the ethnic, religious, and political differences among the Jews caught in the genocidal web. They frequently focus on the details of everyday life under radically abnormal circumstances. In addition to the individual personality of the writer, these memoirs are shaped by the country, social class, education, age and the degree of Jewish identity and assimilation that the writer experienced prior to the war. As time progresses, the voices of child and adolescent survivors—well into in their adult years by the time they write autobiographically—is added to the accumulation of memory narratives, in the next wave of memoirs. Examples include memoirs by Nehama Tec and Nelly Toll (b. 1935). Tec, a professor of sociology at the University of Connecticut at Storrs, wrote Dry Tears, which recounts her experiences as a hidden child pretending to be Catholic under an assumed name. Toll, an art therapist, relates her experiences hiding with her mother in a bedroom of a friend’s apartment. To alleviate anxiety and boredom, Toll was provided with supplies to draw pictures and write stories.
This wave of memoirs is shaped by the authors’ background and experience, but tends to focus less on differences within and among Jewish communities during the war. This group of memoirs includes writing by Isabella Leitner (b. 1922) and Livia Bitton-Jackson (b. 1931). Leitner describes life in Budapest under German occupation and subsequent deportation to Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen. As the title, Fragments of Isabella, indicates, the memoir offers short vignettes and chapters, characterized by anger at German and Hungarian cruelty and antisemitism, as well as bitter anguish at the degradation and losses suffered by her family. Bitton-Jackson’s lean and focused memoir brings an emotional immediacy to the author’s recollection of her disrupted childhood in Hungarian-occupied Czechoslovakia. Deported with her family first to Auschwitz and then to a series of labor camps, Bitton-Jackson depicts the strong bond between the author and her mother, as well as her unbroken faith in God. Some memoirs focus on the experiences of women active in resistance or partisan groups, such as Haika Grosman, who later became a member of the Israel Knesset. Active in the Zionist youth movement in Poland, Grosman played a leadership role in the Bialystok ghetto. She used her Aryan looks to help support anti-German resistance groups, acting as a courier and arms smuggler.
The final wave of women’s memoirs, written at the close of the twentieth century and the beginning of the twenty-first, are also shaped by the half-century since the end of the war—by the culture in which the writer has lived, her relationships and experiences since that time—and by a re-evaluation of how she has come to understand her past. Some of these later memoirs are marked by a belated despair, which hits the writer after decades of seeming adjustment to life after the Holocaust. Sarah Kofman, for example, revisits her Paris childhood in a 1994 memoir, Rue Ordener, Rue Labat. An influential philosopher who taught at the Sorbonne and wrote on Freud, Nietzche, aesthetics and feminism, Kofman recounts her wartime experience in an emotionally raw and powerful narrative. Raised in an Orthodox family, Kofman and her mother were saved from deportation by a non-Jewish French woman who hides both in her apartment. Childless, the rescuer gradually displaced Kofman’s mother in the child’s affections and simultaneously replaced Jewish habits and cultures with French ones. Kofman’s narrative focuses on this maternal competition and alienation as touchstone to the intrusion of atrocity on intimate relations, and to the complexity of what Primo Levi (1919–1987) has called “the gray zone,” areas of moral ambiguity and ambivalence. The absence of Kofman’s father, deported and murdered by a kapo, permeates the narrative, both as a personal remembrance and an instance of the impossibility of adequate testimony. Shortly after completing this memoir, Kofman committed suicide.
Other belated memoirs, such those by Fanya Gottesfeld Heller (b. 1924) and Judith Magyar Isaacson (b. 1925), focus on events which they dared not discuss earlier, out of shame or consideration for others. A teenager in an Orthodox Jewish Polish family during the war years, Heller recounts an affair with a Ukranian militia man who rescued her and her family by hiding and feeding them. Isaacson, an adolescent in an assimilated Hungarian Jewish family, describes the fear of rape as a constant pressure, even in Auschwitz. Still others, such as Ruth Klüger, reflect an effort to come to terms with relationships made difficult by the pressures of the Holocaust. Born in Vienna to a secular Jewish family and deported to Theresientstadt and Auschwitz as a young adolescent, Klüger recollects her mother as heroic, instrumental in their survival, while at the same time problematic and manipulative in her daughter’s life. Klüger pointedly notes that suffering and atrocity do not ennoble, but rather damage the human spirit.
The impulse towards memoirization carries over to subsequent generations. Susan Rubin Suleiman (b. 1939) has coined the term “1.5 generation” to describe women like herself whose early childhood was in Europe during the war years and who, after the war, were raised by mothers who were adult survivors of the Holocaust. Other women, such as Helen Epstein (b. 1947) and Fern Schumer Chapman (b. 1954), born after the war to women who survived the German genocide, write their mothers’ histories and of the place of that past in shaping their own relationship with their mothers.
Some women Holocaust survivors mediated their experiences through fiction and poetry, utilizing literary and imaginative strategies to render their inner experience and to convey to readers elements of atrocity that evaded more chronological or historical narratives. These literary representations grapple with the philosophical, psychological and cultural implications of the Holocaust. While most literature written by male survivors places women at the periphery, most women’s literature focuses on women, highlighting both the commonality and differences in Jewish men’s and women’s experiences. Among the most powerful and subtle fiction writers, Ida Fink draws upon experience, observation and testimony to depict the daily experience under Nazism, the impact of atrocity on relationships and the self, and the complexities of memory in recollecting and narrating the events of the Holocaust years later. Born into a Jewish family well-integrated into Polish society, Fink survived the war under a series of false identities, as recounted in her fictionalized autobiography The Journey. Fink is best known for her short stories, especially A Scrap of Time, which focus on intimate, domestic moments, relationships between spouses, lovers, parents and children and Jews and their rescuers.
Writing in a variety of languages and countries, women wrote novels and short stories in a variety of wartime settings. Several writers focused on depicting life in the ghettoes. For example, Chava Rosenfarb published realistic fiction set in ghettos. Writing in Yiddish and in a variety of genres, Rosenfarb drew on her experiences in the Lodz Ghetto, in Auschwitz and Bergen Belsen. Considered her master work, her 1972 epic novel Tree of Life charts the path of ten inhabitants of the ?ód? Ghetto from its inception until its destruction. Other women authors published fiction set in urban and pastoral settings, tracing the fate of Jews as Nazism constricts their freedom and compels them into hiding and false identities. The novels and stories of Henia Karmel-Wolfe (1923–1984) are set in Cracow and reflect the uncertainty and depravation of the war years. Ilse Aichinger (b. 1921), born to assimilated Jewish parents in Vienna and raised as a Catholic, was considered Jewish by the Nuremberg laws. She was among the first Austrian authors to write literature about the effects of antisemitism on the victims of the Holocaust and, as such, came under harsh criticism in her own country. Born to an assimilated Jewish family in Lublin, and active in the Polish resistance, Anna Langfus draws on her experiences in creating novels and stories about the Holocaust. Writing in French, the language of her adopted country after the war, Langfus explores issues of loss, devastation, hopelessness and tormented memories. These works mirror the variety of women’s experiences during the war.
Several works of fiction offer realistic depictions of life and death in labor and concentration camps. Plaszów and Skar?ysko-Kamienna, where Polish-born Ilona Karmel (1925–2001) labored during the war, provide the setting for her novel, An Estate of Memory. Written in English, the language of her adopted home in the United States, Karmel’s novel focuses on the experiences of women in the sexually segregated camps and on issues of morality in extremis. Sara Nomberg-Przytyk (1915–1996), a Polish survivor of Auschwitz, utilized her own experiences and observations to write the fictionalized set of autobiographical short stories contained in Auschwitz: True Tales from a Grotesque Land. Nomberg-Przytyk presents a complex sense of the range of human behavior in a context that allowed only very limited choices.
In contrast to works that focus on the Holocaust and offer realistic detail, some survivors rarely mention the Holocaust explicitly in their novels and stories. Yet the radical losses of the Nazi genocide may be seen to shape their fictional works. For example, the work of Israeli writer Shulamith Hareven, who was born in Warsaw and immigrated as a child to Palestine, reflects this tendency. While neither her fiction nor her non-fictional writing deals directly with the Holocaust, her work has been seen as shaped by sorrow and nightmares of the fate she narrowly escaped, featuring dreamlike returns to the city of her birth and protagonists characterized by sadness and alienation.
In addition to fiction, the Holocaust finds both direct and indirect poetic expression in the works of such poets as Nelly Sachs, Gertrud Kolmar, Rokhl Korn and Irena Klepfisz (b. 1941). Raised in Berlin where she became known for her poetry, Sachs fled to Sweden with her mother in 1939. There, her poems reflected her growing knowledge about the Holocaust, and the loss of personal friends and family to the Nazi genocide. Her poems pay particular attention to the plight of children. Born in Berlin to an upper middle-class assimilated Jewish family and deported to Auschwitz in 1943, Kolmar had a significant body of poems by the time the Nazis came to power. Her work addressed the Jewish past, violent antisemitism and the development of Nazi persecution, and she continued to write even while engaged in forced labor in a munitions factory. Raised in a rural area of Galicia, Poland, Korn fled to the relative safety of Russia with her daughter, thereby escaping the death that overtook the rest of her family. Although it was only in her adult years that she learned to write in Yiddish, it is in that language that Korn’s post-war poems and stories, which are characterized by a sense of sorrow and loss, deal with the Holocaust, lamenting the murdered Jews of Europe. Klepfisz, whose father died in the Warsaw Ghetto uprising and who survived with her mother by passing as Catholic Poles, recaptures the perspective of childhood in poems such as “Bashert.” Some of her poems grapple with the meaning of the Holocaust for contemporary Americans, addressing issues of marginality and exclusion.
Increasingly, the Holocaust has found a place in the fiction and poetry of women who were not themselves personally involved. Whether actual descendants of survivors, or simply born into the post-Holocaust world, or born elsewhere, these writers probe the resonances, after-effects, and implications of the German genocide. Either implicitly or explicitly, their works also explore the ways in which their own cultures—for example, Israeli, Jewish American, French, German—negotiate and shape the representation of the past. Fiction writers include Cynthia Ozick (b. 1928), Marcie Hershman (b. 1951), Sheri Szeman, Michal Govrin, Nava Semel (b. 1954), Rebecca Goldstein (b. 1950), Marge Piercy, Norma Rosen, Susan Fromberg Schaeffer (b. 1941), Anne Michaels (b. 1958), Savyon Liebrecht (b. 1948) and Francine Prose (b. 1947). Poets include Kadya Molodowsky, Rivka Miriam (b. 1952), Lily Brett (b. 1946), Alicia Ostriker and Ruth Whitman. Although Molodowsky was born in White Russia and educated in Warsaw and Odessa, by the mid–1930s she had already immigrated to the United States. In the poems collected in Der melekh dovid aleyn is geblibn (Only King David Remained), Molodowsky laments the dead Jews of Europe and struggles with witnessing the Holocaust from afar. She also edited an anthology of Yiddish poetry about the Holocaust, including poems by Jews who perished during the Holocaust, those who survived and those who witnessed it from afar. Miriam, an Israeli poet, and Brett, an Australian, are children of Holocaust survivors who struggle with this legacy in their poems. In her poems, American-born Ostriker struggles with the idea of God after the Holocaust and with the long history of Western antisemitism. Whitman, who translated Yiddish Holocaust literature into English, deals with the Holocaust in an imagined diary, in verse form, in the voice of Hannah Szenes, who parachuted behind German lines.
Theater is yet another literary venue for representation of the Holocaust. In Lady of the Castle, a play by the Israeli poet Lea Goldberg, a Holocaust survivor struggles with the aftermath of the European destruction. Born in France to Jewish immigrants from Greece, Liliane Atlan and her sister were sent by their parents to the French countryside to elude the genocidal net that killed much of their extended family. Atlan’s plays dramatize the Holocaust and grapple with its humanistic implications. Monsieur Fugue ou Le Mal de Terre (Mr. Fugue or Earth Sickness) was inspired by the life and work of Janusz Korczak (1878–1942).
Although the corpus of Holocaust literature by women is diverse and varied, several themes predominate. Some of these recurrent themes are gender specific, while others characterize Holocaust writing in general. Gender specific themes include a focus on childbirth and motherhood during the war. During the Holocaust, responsibility for children placed a special burden on mothers, who struggled to sustain the family despite the genocidal pressures that made this difficult. In ghettoes, the meager rations, demanding work details and rampant epidemics complicated the act of mothering. In camps such as Auschwitz-Birkenau, mothers who arrived with small children or women who arrived pregnant were immediately sent to their death. Literature by women explores the effects of these harsh circumstances on women’s lives and psyches. For example, Ilona Karmel’s novel, An Estate of Memory, centers on four women who band together in a labor camp. One of the four is pregnant and determined to carry to term. The other three women help conceal her pregnancy and—at great sacrifice—provide her with extra nutrition and shoulder her share of the physical labor. More than merely documenting an unusual set of circumstances, Karmel’s novel treats the secret pregnancy as a symbol of the women’s inner resistance to the forces of atrocity and the crucible by which they evaluate themselves as ethical beings. Karmel’s focus on a situation particular to women—pregnancy—provides the opportunity to elaborate ways in which women’s experiences differed from those of men. At the same time, the novel’s focus on ethical choices in extremis becomes a means to articulate issues faced by men as well. Cynthia Ozick’s novella The Shawl focuses on a young mother who tries and fails to protect her infant from death in a labor camp and many years later still suffers from this traumatic bereavement.
A reversal of conventional gender roles also characterizes women’s Holocaust literature. Traditionally, war stories depict women as relegated to domestic space, while men go off to battle. Women are depicted as passive, either victimized or rescued by men. Often, Holocaust writing by men relegates women to such passive or peripheral roles. By contrast, in women’s Holocaust writing the war against the Jews is fought in domestic space as homes are invaded and confiscated and Jews displaced. Memoirs depict women devising ways to feed, protect or rescue their families. Attuned to social interactions and informal channels of information, women frequently become aware of danger before their husbands. In ghettos, women who had never worked outside the home were forced to work for meager pay or rations to sustain their children and husbands. In the gender segregated labor camps, women needed to rely on themselves or on one another. Holocaust fiction explores the dimensions of such role reversals.
A central hypothesis that has emerged in scholarly interpretations of women’s Holocaust literature is the idea that women endured the hardships of concentration camps by forming surrogate families, bonding with and supporting one another, while men survived by competing with other men for scarce resources. While many works by women do give evidence of such cooperation, the differences may be less notable than first supposed.
Women’s Holocaust literature also depicts women as sexually vulnerable. Memoirs reveal a pervasive fear of rape. In addition, in much of women’s writing, the humiliation that was suffered by Jewish men and women alike is experienced by women as a sexual humiliation. The shaving of body hair and the exposure of one’s body in front of strange men, characteristic of arrivals at concentration camps, are experienced by women as a sexual violation. Women’s bodies also render them vulnerable in other ways. Women who menstruate in the camps do not have adequate hygienic devices and feel humiliated, grotesque in their own eyes. When women cease menstruating due to malnutrition, they fear that they have become sterile.
Women’s writing often notes the links between power and sexual exploitation. For example, in Ida Fink’s collection of short stories, A Scrap of Time, one story, “Aryan Papers,” depicts a young girl bartering her virginity for false identity papers that might save her own life and that of her mother. Another story in the collection, “Conversation,” depicts a Jewish married couple hiding on a farm under the protection of the woman landowner. Eventually, the farmwoman demands the man’s sexual favors as the price of the hiding space. In a collection of interrelated short stories, Tales of the Master Race, Marcie Hershman explores the connections between eros and violence as she depicts the adulterous affair between a Gestapo interrogator and the wife of an underling. The underling has moral qualms about torture, while his supervisor profits from it.
The treatment of sexuality and power is quite different in Holocaust literature by men. There the victims of rape, forced prostitution or sexual barter are almost exclusively women. Their situation and their behavior is depicted as viewed externally rather than experienced internally. In some novels, such as Jerzy Kosinski’s The Painted Bird and Louis Begley’s Wartime Lies, the sexual violation of women is presented in the background or on the periphery, intended to darken and underscore the danger of the male protagonist and at the same time keep him at a safe remove. Other writers, such as William Styron in Sophie’s Choice, present the female victim as inherently eroticized, rendered desirable by her victimization. Many novels by women treat such situations in ways that deliberately thwart the potential of voyeurism and point to the inner experience of the female victim of sexual atrocity. For example, Sheri Szeman’s novel The Kommandant’s Mistress focuses on a female inmate of a concentration camp who sexually services the camp Kommandant. The novel is built on the juxtaposition of two narratives, one by the Kommandant and one by his prisoner. The Kommandant imagines that the woman shares his pleasure in the encounter. Other prisoners regard her with envy and disgust, imagining her experience as less harsh than theirs. Her narrative makes clear that the acts that the Kommandant forces her to perform are yet another component of the atrocity inflicted upon the Jews of the camp on the way to their murder.
Literary critics, much like other researchers of the Holocaust, have been slow to distinguish the experiences and writing of women from those of men. However, since the late 1980s women scholars have begun to analyze Holocaust literature on the basis of gender. The earliest scholarly writing about women and Holocaust literature sought to examine literary writing as a means to uncovering greater knowledge about the experiences of women during the Holocaust. Often working on the assumption that many novels and stories about the Holocaust were thinly veiled autobiography, or that literary works accurately reflected conditions in the ghettos, in hiding, in concentration camps, or in the resistance, and that literature could serve as imaginative “witness” to the Holocaust, researchers sought to recover lost or neglected stories about women under Nazism, and to determine whether women’s experiences were essentially different from or similar to men’s. As more historical work focused on women’s experiences during the Holocaust, literary critics placed their analyses of women’s writing in the context of what was known about women’s history in the Nazi era. A number of literary critics, such as Sara R. Horowitz, Lori Lefkovitz and Julia Epstein, focused on the literariness of literary responses, the constructedness of memory and the relationship of women’s literature to the different cultural milieus of the authors and of the readers—that is, on the way Holocaust remembrance shapes and is shaped by personal and collective ways of grappling with the Holocaust. Several literary scholars, such as S. Lilian Kremer, Rachel Feldahay Brenner, Mary Felstiner and Myrna Goldenberg, have sought to expand awareness of women’s experiences and knowledge of women writers by analyzing works of individual women writers and studying recurrent themes in women’s writing. Others, including Naomi Sokoloff and Hamida Bosmajian, have focused on childhood narratives and the nature of the family.
Many literary critics and theorists came to the conclusion that in order to comment meaningfully about women’s writing, one must analyze aspects of gender in writing by and about men as well as women. Moreover, because gender does not exist as an isolated category, but must be studied in specific contexts, nationality, ethnicity, religion and class interact with questions of gender. As gender theory evolved and became more nuanced, literary critics including Marianne Hirsch and Sara R. Horowitz developed ways of incorporating gender analysis in discussions of Holocaust representations. In addition to incorporating gender analysis into Holocaust literature, women literary critics including Sidra DeKoven Ezrahi, Sara R. Horowitz, Susan Gubar, Hanna Yaoz, Shoshana Felman, Hamida Bosmajian, Ellen Fine, Vivian Patraka and Gila Ramras-Rauch have contributed to the development of critical interpretations of Holocaust literature.
Women have created a rich and diverse body of literature about the Holocaust. Writing out of different experiences, with different temperaments and points of view, in a wide range of genres, and across cultures and languages, they expanded the ways in which readers come to encounter the Holocaust and its aftermath. The work of women literary scholars has contributed in important ways toward understanding how literature represents the Nazi genocide. Approaching the subject with a variety of questions and concerns, with different views and interests, they have strongly influenced the ways in which readers interpret this difficult body of literature.
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