Original Research

Trauma in Der Nazi & der Friseur von Edgar Hilsenrath

J.P.C. van den Berg
Literator | Vol 32, No 1 | a2 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/lit.v32i1.2 | © 2011 J.P.C. van den Berg | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 22 June 2011 | Published: 22 June 2011

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J.P.C. van den Berg, Departement Afrikaans & Nederlands, Duits & Frans, Fakulteit Geesteswetenskappe, Universiteit van die Vrystaat, South Africa

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Theory about trauma and trauma representation can be very useful when interpreting literary texts. The notion of trauma is a complex one and can in general be associated with specific historical experiences, or used as an ontological category to describe fundamental aspects of human existence and identity. From a psycho-analytical perspective the latter refers to a lack within the symbolic order to assimilate and interpret experience in a meaningful way, which consequently leads to a confrontation with the alienating Žižekian real. “Der Nazi & der Friseur”(“The Nazi & the barber”) by Edgar Hilsenrath deals, among other issues, with the Holocaust experiences of the main character.The aim of this article is to identify possible signs of trauma, both at the level of narrated events and the narration itself. Besides these signs of historical trauma, it will be demonstrated that the play with identity in the novel can be read against the background of trauma used as ontological category,grounded in the “other”, as something existing beyond the boundaries of the symbolic order.


Hilsenrath; Edgar; Holocaust Identity; Representation of Trauma; Trauma


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