June, 15, 2017 / 6.00 pm
Center for Urban History, Lviv
There will be a presentation of the book "The Journey" by Ida Fink and a discussion on the role of literature in dealing with complicated historical topics.
"The Journey" by Ida Fink is a "whispered" history of the Holocaust in the cities of Zbarazh, Ternopil, and Lviv. There are two sisters who experienced the turbulent and exhausting arrests, the forced labour, concealment, persecution and escape in the Nazi Germany, but managed to survive despite all. The story could have been a documentary. However, the fact does not change anything for the book. It is about a typical Jewish journey on the verge of life and death. It is a journey beyond time, but also largely contextualized in the period of the Second World War. This typicality is scary, and is presented by means of an accentuated tranquil "post-monologue" of one of the sisters.
Literature has largely influenced the change of attitudes to Jewish heritage in Poland. The most significant voices in the discussion on the problems of Polish-Jewish relations in the second half of the 1980s were coming from historians of literature, such as Jan Blonski and Jaroslaw Marek Rymkiewicz. It was for literature that managed to find the most personal tone to "put into words" the abovementioned subjects. The publication of the Ukrainian translation of Ida Fink’s "The Journey" is an opportunity to talk about the situation thereon in Ukraine.
This topic in particular was addressed by Ostap Slyvynskyi in a landmark article "What do Writers Have to Do With History Today: a Polish Master Class for Ukraine": "...the most interesting literature is born at the intersection of identities, memories, and different national versions of the past. It is the literature that not only smoothes the sharp edges of the monologic versions and blurs their boundaries but also [...] highlights the points where they unexpectedly cross and even change places. That is why historical (or history oriented) literature can also be a powerful factor of reconciliation. And again – if it only wishes to."