Title page for ETD etd-05102011-111819

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Lautenschlager, Michael Allen
Author's Email Address mlautens@vt.edu
URN etd-05102011-111819
Title Imagining the Worst: Ladislav Fuks' Contributions to Holocaust Fiction
Degree Master of Arts
Department English
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Kiebuzinska, Christine Committee Chair
Knapp, Shoshana Milgram Committee Member
Sax, Benjamin Committee Member
  • Holocaust Literature
  • Ladislav Fuks
  • Czechoslovakian Literature
  • Czechoslovakian Film
  • Juraj Herz
Date of Defense 2011-04-26
Availability unrestricted
Ladislav Fuks' works are under-recognized in English-speaking academic discourse. He is a valuable contributor not only to the Holocaust Literature genre, but also to film and literature in general. His two English-translated works, Mr. Theodore Mundstock and The Cremator, as well as the film adaptation of The Cremator, examine the role imagination can play in art that addresses atrocity, allowing for a heightened subjective impact on the audience. I critically and comparatively examine Fuks' work to establish his value to literature and Holocaust art. In the first chapter, I frame my argument with questions of art's abilities to represent atrocity and provide relevant background information relating to Fuks' and his experience in wartime Prague. In Chapter Two, I closely read Mr. Theodore Mundstock, concentrating specifically on Fuks' use of metaphor, presentation of incredulity, and commentary on the imagination's capabilities in confronting terror. Chapter Three compares Mr. Theodore Mundstock to the “Momik” section of David Grossman's See Under: Love, focusing on similarities between the title characters. Chapter Four examines Fuks' use of the grotesque in The Cremator and its film adaptation. Chapter Five compares Fuks' works to Aharon Appelfeld's novel Badenheim 1939, emphasizing each author's reliance on the audience's retrospective prescience, which provides a significant psychological impact and avoids contributing to the over-saturation of Holocaust information on the public. I conclude that Fuks should be more highly regarded and widely recognized both academically and in popular culture, as he exhibits similar features as other, more celebrated Holocaust writers, and his innovative contributions defend the value of literature in representing atrocity.
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