The Holocaust marks a decisive moment in modern suffering in which it becomes almost impossible to find meaning or redemption in the experience. In this study, C. Fred Alford offers a new and thoughtful examination of the experience of suffering. Moving from the Book of Job, an account of meaningful suffering in a God-drenched world, to the work of Primo Levi, who attempted to find meaning in the Holocaust through absolute clarity of insight, he concludes that neither strategy works well in today's world. More effective are the day-to-day coping practices of some survivors. Drawing on testimonies of survivors from the Fortunoff Video Archives, Alford also applies the work of Julia Kristeva and the psychoanalyst Donald Winnicot to his examination of a topic that has been and continues to be central to human experience.
C. Fred Alford is Professor of Government and Distinguished Scholar-Teacher at the University of Maryland, College Park. A recipient of three awards from the Fulbright Commission, he is the author of more than a dozen books in moral psychology, most recently, Psychology and the Natural Law of Reparation.
1. Introduction; 2. Job, transitional space, and ruthlessness; 3. Holocaust testimonies: after the silence of Job; 4. Sisyphus, Levi, and Job at Auschwitz; 5. Conclusion: beyond the silence of Job.