Epistolophilia: Writing the Life of Ona Simaite

Epistolophilia: Writing the Life of Ona Simaite

By: Julija Sukys (author)Hardback

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The librarian walks the streets of her beloved Paris. An old lady with a limp and an accent, she is invisible to most. Certainly no one recognizes her as the warrior and revolutionary she was, when again and again she slipped into the Jewish ghetto of German-occupied Vilnius to carry food, clothes, medicine, money, and counterfeit documents to its prisoners. Often she left with letters to deliver, manuscripts to hide, and even sedated children swathed in sacks. In 1944 she was captured by the Gestapo, tortured for twelve days, and deported to Dachau. Through Epistolophilia, Julija Sukys follows the letters and journals-the "life-writing"-of this woman, Ona Simaite (1894-1970). A treasurer of words, Simaite carefully collected, preserved, and archived the written record of her life, including thousands of letters, scores of diaries, articles, and press clippings. Journeying through these words, Sukys negotiates with the ghost of Simaite, beckoning back to life this quiet and worldly heroine-a giant of Holocaust history (one of Yad Vashem's honored "Righteous Among the Nations") and yet so little known. The result is at once a mediated self-portrait and a measured perspective on a remarkable life. It reveals the meaning of life-writing, how women write their lives publicly and privately, and how their words attach them-and us-to life.

About Author

Julija Sukys is an assistant professor of creative writing at the Department of English at the University of Missouri-Columbia. She is the author of Silence Is Death: The Life and Work of Tahar Djaout (Nebraska, 2007).


List of Illustrations Acknowledgments A Note on Place Names Part One 1. The Woman in the Park 2. Vilnius 3. Correspondence 4. Ona Simaite's Letters to Marijona Cilvinaite, 19571958 5. Caregiving and Letters Part Two 6. A Childhood Tale 7. Russian Letters 8. Everyday Writings Part Three 9. Ghetto 10. Mowszowicz 11. Letters to Kazys Jakubenas, 19411943 12. Destruction of the Ghetto Part Four 13. Kazys 14. Kazys's Death 15. Alfonsas's Theory Part Five 16. Catholicism, Sex, and Sin 17. Mothering Part Six 18. Ludelange 19. Freedom 20. Toulouse 21. Letters to New York 22. La Courtine Part Seven 23. The Ghetto Library 24. Librarians 25. Writing a Woman's Life Part Eight 26. Aldute 27. Family Letters 28. Soviet Schizophrenia 29. Death in Vilnius 30. Paris 1968 31. Single and Crazy Part Nine 32. Cormeilles 33. October Works Cited

Product Details

  • ISBN13: 9780803236325
  • Format: Hardback
  • Number Of Pages: 240
  • ID: 9780803236325
  • ISBN10: 0803236328

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