Trauma and Memory in Iris Murdoch's The Italian Girl
Keywords:Holocaust, Iris Murdoch, the Freudian psychoanalysis, Jewish identity, coming to terms with the past
AbstractThe core of this paper is to provide a critical analysis on Iris Murdoch’s The Italian Girl in the light of post-Holocaust studies. This paper’s aim is to identify how the concepts of memory and trauma emerge in Murdoch’s narrative, and how the post-war Jewish guilt and mourning for the dead constitutes a central element of her early novels. Through an extended analysis of The Italian Girl’s two exile characters, this work wishes to connect Murdoch’s ethical concerns on the Holocaust to the problem of the Jewish exile identity, explaining how the notions of survival and memory as well as the dilemma of the acceptance versus rejection of minority identity constitute a central problem in her fiction. In this essay, I also address such concepts as the Freudian ideas of the uncanny and homecoming, demonstrating how the Freudian psychoanalysis and the style of the Gothic novel serve as helpful guides for Murdoch to draw up the psychosis of a post-war world that was shaken by Hitler’s terror and the Holocaust.
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