Innocence, Memory and Experience: Eva Figes and Ruth Kluger
Chair: Eva Hoffman
In this absorbing and brilliant session, Eva Hoffman explored the extraordinary narratives of two authors, their complex relationships with the women in their families and their different ways of coming to terms with a troubled and tragic past.
Landscapes of Memory, Ruth Kluger's memoir about her childhood spent in Nazi concentration camps, is also the story of her refusal to forget the past as an adult in the USA and an unflinching account of her difficult relationship with her mother. Eva Figes' book, Tales of Innocence and Experience, is a captivating exploration of the relationship between a grandmother and her grand-daughter. Figes explores both the sweetness of the relationship and the darker side of childhood jealousy and anger, fear of death and abandonment. Her own grandparents perished in the Shoah and her fairy-tale childhood in Berlin ended when, aged 7, she fled with her family to England in 1939.
The session was held in association with British Wizo.
"This is the problem with any kind of survival story, that you start writing these things in order to illustrate the horror and the destruction that you escaped from, and it ends up with the escape, and so there is a sort of an upbeat feeling to it which isn't intended, but yet you cannot get around it." [Ruth Kluger] "I found that, about five or six years ago, I suddenly could not think about anything else, and I know that as one gets older one tends to regress towards the past and the past gets more immediate. And you always think it happens to other people but not to you. I found that I could not think about anything else. I was crying a lot. In 1945 I did not cry at all. I realised that as I was a writer, I would have to do something with this material, and that is how it began." [Eva Figes]
Experience the event as it happened:Transcripts