Life Writing

Published by: Wilfrid Laurier University Press

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163256

A Memoir of Resistance

163256: A Memoir of Resistance is Michael Englishman’s astonishing story of courage, resourcefulness, and moral fibre as a Dutch Jew during World War II and its aftermath, from the Nazi occupation of Holland in 1940, through his incarceration in numerous death and labour camps, to his eventual liberation by Allied soldiers in 1945 and his emigration to Canada. Surviving by his wits, Englishman escaped death time and again, committing daring acts of bravery to do what he thought was right—helping other prisoners escape and actively participating in the underground resistance.

A man who refused to surrender his spirit despite the loss of his wife and his entire family to the Nazis, Englishman kept a promise he had made to a friend, and sought his friend’s children after the war. With the children’s mother, he made a new life in Canada, where he continued his resistance, tracking neo-Nazi cells and infiltrating their headquarters to destroy their files.

Until his death in August 2007, Englishman remained active, speaking out against racism and hatred in seminars for young people. His gripping story should be widely read and will be of interest to scholars of auto/biography, World War II history, and the Holocaust.

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Accident of Fate

A Personal Account, 1938–1945

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And Peace Never Came

“It is Easter Sunday, April 1945, early in the morning, maybe just dawn. We stand still, like frozen grey statues. Us. Seven hundred and thirty women, wrapped in wet, grey, threadbare blankets, standing in the rain. Our blankets hang over our heads, drape down to the soil. We hold them closed with our hands from the inside, leaving only a small opening to peer out, so that we save the precious warmth of our breath.” (from Chapter 5)

So begins the author’s sojourn, her search for freedom that begins with the chaotic barrenness in which she found herself after her liberation on Easter Sunday, April 1945, and takes her across several continents and half a lifetime.

Raab paints a brief yet moving picture of her idyllic life before her internment and the shock and the horrors of Auschwitz, but it is in the images of life after her liberation, that Raab imparts her most poignant story — a story told in a clear, almost sparse, always honest style, a story of the brutal, and, at times, the beautiful facts of human nature.

This book will appeal to a number of audiences — to readers interested in human nature under the most trying circumstances, to historians of World War II or Jewish history, to veterans and their families who lived through World War II, and to those interested in politics and the evils of political extremism.

Shortlisted for the 1998 Edna Staebler Award for Creative Non-fiction.

Winner of the 1999 Jewish Book Committee award for best Holocaust memoir.

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Auto/biography in Canada

Critical Directions

Auto/biography in Canada: Critical Directions widens the field of auto/biography studies with its sophisticated multidisciplinary perspectives on the theory, criticism, and practice of self, community, and representation. Rather than considering autobiography and biography as discrete genres with definable properties, and rather than focusing on critical approaches, the essays explore auto/biography as a discourse about identity and representation in the context of numerous disciplinary shifts. Auto/biography in Canada looks at how life narratives are made in Canada .

Originating from literary studies, history, and social work, the essays in this collection cover topics that range from queer Canadian autobiography, autobiography and autism, and newspaper death notices as biography, to Canadian autobiography and the Holocaust, Grey Owl and authenticity, France Théoret and autofiction, and a new reading of Stolen Life, the collaborative text by Yvonne Johnson and Rudy Wiebe.

Julie Rak’s useful “big picture” introduction traces the history of auto/biography studies in Canada. While the contributors chart disciplinary shifts taking place in auto/biography studies, their essays are also part of the ongoing scholarship that is remaking ways to understand Canada.

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Basements and Attics, Closets and Cyberspace

Explorations in Canadian Women’s Archives

Edited by Linda M. Morra

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Be Good, Sweet Maid

The Trials of Dorothy Joudrie

January 21, 1995: Dorothy Joudrie is arrested for attempting to murder her estranged husband. Soon after, Audrey Andrews begins to write her book. Audrey and Dorothy had known each other as children, but the identification of Andrews with Joudrie goes beyond merely the accident of a childhood acquaintance. It has to do with being subjected to the same societal constraints placed on girls and women during the years immediately following World War II, the years in which they had prepared for their adult lives. Expectations, placidly accepted then, are now seen as unrealistic and unreasonable. Did these expectations have some part in causing the tragedy in Dorothy Joudrie’s life?

When Andrews attempted to understand why Dorothy Joudrie had tried to kill her husband, and to write Joudrie’s story, she began to examine her own life, her own expectations — those she had of herself and those others had of her. She also realized that telling the story of anyone is an intricate and often ephemeral pursuit. Any story she wrote could only be her version of Joudrie’s experience. Nevertheless, it was important to be as honest as she could about her interpretation of that life. She determined to show carefully and accurately the damage that had been done to one woman — damage that is still being done to many others — through prejudice, attitudes, traditions and the institutions that are still the foundation of our society, and of our lives, everyday.

The result is a fascinating account of events leading up to the trial, the trial itself and the effect of Joudrie’s trial on the life of Audrey Andrews.

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Bearing Witness

Living with Ovarian Cancer

Bearing Witness is a collection of stories from women who went through the diagnosis of ovarian cancer, and treatment for it, only to find that the cancer recurred and any hope of recovery was gone. These women represent a spectrum of ages, ethnic backgrounds, marital circumstances, and professional experiences. From their stories we learn how each woman shapes the meaning of her life. Facing a life crisis can make one bitter and angry, but it can also provide the key to a thankful and generous spirit within.

Storytelling is an important art form present in many cultures: it is a way of processing life events, of searching for meaning, and of allowing teller and listener to wrestle with the message. It is a form of teaching and learning. For the women in Bearing Witness, stories are tangible legacies for family and friends and a chance to share their thoughts on living with the “glass half full.” They inspire the reader to reflect on life’s struggles and to find within themselves a sense of optimism, perhaps when they least expect to.

Kathryn Carter’s concluding essay places these stories in the context of contemporary discourses of illness and healing.

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Becoming My Mother’s Daughter

A Story of Survival and Renewal

Becoming My Mother’s Daughter: A Story of Survival and Renewal tells the story of three generations of a Jewish Hungarian family whose fate has been inextricably bound up with the turbulent history of Europe, from the First World War through the Holocaust and the communist takeover after World War II, to the family’s dramatic escape and emmigration to Canada. The emotional centre and narrative voice of the story belong to Eva, an artist, dreamer, and writer trying to work through her complex and deep relationship with her mother, whose portrait she cannot paint until she completes her journey through memory.

The core of the book is Eva’s riveting recollection of the last months of World War II in Budapest, seen through a child’s eyes, and is reminiscent in its power of scenes in Joy Kogawa’s Obasan. Exploring the bond between generations of mothers and daughters, the book illustrates the struggle between the need for independence and the search for continuity, the significant impact of childhood on adult life, the reshaping of personality in immigration, the importance of dreams in making us face reality, and the redemptive power of memory. Illustrations by the author throughout the book, some in colour, enhance the story.

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Boom!

Manufacturing Memoir for the Popular Market

Since the early 1990s, tens of thousands of memoirs by celebrities and unknown people have been published, sold, and read by millions of American readers. The memoir boom, as the explosion of memoirs on the market has come to be called, has been welcomed, vilified, and dismissed in the popular press. But is there really a boom in memoir production in the United States? If so, what is causing it? Are memoirs all written by narcissistic hacks for an unthinking public, or do they indicate a growing need to understand world events through personal experiences? This study seeks to answer these questions by examining memoir as an industrial product like other products, something that publishers and booksellers help to create. These popular texts become part of mass culture, where they are connected to public events. The genre of memoir, and even genre itself, ceases to be an empty classification category and becomes part of social action and consumer culture at the same time. From James Frey’s controversial A Million Little Pieces, to memoirs about bartending, Iran, the liberation of Dachau, computer hacking, and the impact of 9/11, this book argues that the memoir boom is more than a publishing trend. It is becoming the way American readers try to understand major events in terms of individual experiences. The memoir boom is one of the ways that citizenship as a category of belonging between private and public spheres is now articulated.

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Borrowed Tongues

Life Writing, Migration, and Translation

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