A survivor of the Nazi death camp of Auschwitz-Birkenau, Charlotte Delbo (1913–1985) left literary writings intended to honour the memory of her comrade detainees and to make known what happened there. Knowing did not mean for Delbo information about or understanding of the concentrationary world but making readers “see” and “feel” an unimaginable traumatic experience. For that purpose she called on her visual memory and her theatrical formation, served by poetic language. In this paper I examine particularly how images have been retained by Delbo in her memory, the “objects” making up these images, the way they are presented to express the horror of the situations, the bodily representations of suffering and death and the linguistic strategies which support them. Reflecting the influence of Louis Jouvet, the well-known actor and theatre director to whom she was a secretary, Delbo confronts her readers with powerful, often unbearable scenes. I aim to show that the theatrical and poetical dimensions of Delbo’s writing are the main factors which allow us to “see” the reality and “feel” the trauma she experienced.


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pp. 10-22
Launched on MUSE
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