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Remnants of Auschwitz: The Witness and the Archive (Homo sacer III.)

4.19  ·  Rating Details ·  522 Ratings  ·  23 Reviews

In this book the Italian philosopher Giorgio Agamben looks closely at the literature of the survivors of Auschwitz, probing the philosophical and ethical questions raised by their testimony.

"In its form, this book is a kind of perpetual commentary on testimony. It did not seem possible to proceed otherwise. At a certain point, it became clear that testimony contained at it

Hardcover, 1st edition, 176 pages
Published December 17th 1999 by Zone Books (NY) (first published 1998)
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Jul 07, 2012 Mjhancock rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: scholarly, philosophy
Giorgio Agamben pursues a number of ethical and philosophical questions that arise when confronted by the testimony and records of Auschwitz survivors. Chief among them is what it means to be a witness to something so impossible to describe, and both what it means to be a subject that can bear shame and to be beyond subjecthood. The book is divided into four sections. First is The Witness, which is a discussion on what what a witness is, and how a Holocaust survivor can and cannot be a complete ...more
Apr 20, 2009 Zach rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good, but far from Agamben's best. My least favorite in the Homo Sacer project with the exception of the yet to be translated Kingdom and the Glory (which my lack of knowledge of Italian has prevented me from reading). Despite the disappointing chapter on the Witness and the Archive, Agamben's exploration of the Muselmann as a twentieth century historical example of bare life is quite compelling and makes the book worth the time.

The chapter certainly made me feel guilty for saying that daily in
Nov 16, 2010 Dave rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2010
I'm honestly not sure if I understand the last half of the book, but the first two chapters expanded my understanding of how one can witness the unsayable and unknowable.
Mar 20, 2010 F rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
While Agamben presents a rigorous analysis of testimony (so rigorous that some might say his presention of the Holocaust is insensitive), I can't remember crying so much while reading nonfiction.
Jacob Senholt
Not the best book by Agamben I have read. I am not totally convinced of his arguments in this one. 'State of Exception' is better.
Errol Orhan
Oct 20, 2016 Errol Orhan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As always, I struggled to find my rhythm with an Agamben book, but as soon as I got used to the 'first you'll read something you won't understand, and three pages later, some, though not necessarily the most important parts are revealed', it was a very rewarding read. The first chapter two chapters pack a huge punch, the third one was lost on me, and the fourth offered an actual answer to the question Agamben sets out to answer. Which is quite remarkable.
Bernardo Kaiser
First two essays are perfect, the other two are mumbo jumbo
Feb 20, 2013 Leif rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
One of Agamben's more contentious recent offerings, and one that many commentators (such as, for instance, Leland de la Durantaye) have deemed his most uneven, Remnants of Auschwitz is still a remarkable book: erudite, punchy, generous, and clear. Agamben handles his difficult topic here---nothing less than the ability to "bear witness" in and through language---with tenacity and an eye for the twin pitfalls of sentimentality and brutality. And ultimately if Agamben is recognizably himself in hi ...more
Gabriela Melo
Diante dos horrores da Segunda Guerra e das atrocidades que ocorreram no campo de concentração de Auschwitz, o mundo quer descobrir mais, quer aprender o que está por trás deste triste episódio da História da Humanidade, e para isso recorre aos relatos de sobreviventes. Contudo, em O que resta de Auschwitz: o relato; a testemunha, o autor vai tratar sobre isso: a dificuldade em contar com clareza o que aconteceu, em uma verdadeira aula de psicologia do testemunho.
Agambem também vai falar sobre u
Riotaccordion loeffler
Whoah, i mean whoah.
Remnants of Aushwitz goes through literature put out by holocaust survivors and tries to paint a connections between the biopolitics of then and now which a sort of societal, sedated, form of a concentration camp.
He talks a lot about the concept of the "musselman" which was a term used at concentration camps to refer to someone without humanity. Someone who was a pure physicality, no emotions, ideas, thoughts. Someone who has been essentially destroyed. Also Agamben says that
Steve Pieragastini
Agamben is clearly a smart guy and has some interesting things to say about the human condition in advanced capitalist societies. However, he is prone to outrageous exaggeration, with this book being the most egregious example. Its one thing to say that our society is soul-crushing. Its another to diminish, even debase, the traumatic experiences of Holocaust survivors to further a political agenda. Unforgivable.
Feb 26, 2016 Leonardo marked it as to-keep-reference  ·  review of another edition
Agamben postula al Muselmann como una especie de testigo absoluto/imposible...

Visión de Paralaje Pág.165
Jun 28, 2014 Jaclyn rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What I understood deeply moved me; granted, there was much that I couldn't follow. Fortuitously, a good friend recommend that I purchase the book. So I, like other goodreaders, will give it a second go in a few months and see what additional information I can gather.
Feb 07, 2011 Jamie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'm cheating a bit here. I didn't read the third chapter (as my professor didn't assign it). However, a very thought-provoking book. Very insightful theory concerning the "impossibility" of witnessing caused by the Shoah.
Eduardo Sangarcía
Como todos los libros de Agamben, éste es una fuente de erudición que va más allá del tema principal: filosofía, lingüística, filología, derecho, biología, psicología... todo conjugado en busca de una respuesta a la atroz pregunta que Auschwitz nos plantea.
Thodoris Bonis
Για μια κριτική μου στην ελληνική έκδοση (Εξάρχεια) μπορείτε να διαβάσετε εδώ:
Starting to do some reading for a short book project called "Future Ethics." I've read some Agamben but this is exceptional.
May 19, 2008 Katherine rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I reread it, and it's stunningly good. I didn't understand all of it the first time around, but the second time around was much more rewarding.
Sep 30, 2015 Pedro rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The insights into Primo Levi's thought (and especially into his "paradox") are simply delightful. Must read.
Jessica Zu
This is a very difficult book to read. But it compels us to think about the unthinkable: Muzelmann as the modern Homo Sacer, the collective failure of nation-state, the dangers of biopower, ...
Angela rated it it was amazing
May 08, 2012
Delroy rated it it was amazing
May 07, 2008
Mark Mendoza
Mark Mendoza rated it really liked it
Sep 11, 2016
Tristin Hassell
Tristin Hassell rated it liked it
Nov 22, 2014
Elanor rated it really liked it
Mar 25, 2015
Dave rated it it was amazing
Aug 07, 2015
Maureen rated it it was amazing
Jun 04, 2013
david rated it really liked it
Jun 26, 2008
Catherine Partin
Catherine Partin rated it really liked it
Feb 07, 2015
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  • Testimony: Crises of Witnessing in Literature, Psychoanalysis and History
  • Unclaimed Experience: Trauma, Narrative and History
  • At the Mind's Limits: Contemplations by a Survivor on Auschwitz and Its Realities
  • Precarious Life: The Powers of Mourning and Violence
  • After Finitude: An Essay on the Necessity of Contingency
  • The Space of Literature
  • Homos
  • The Concept of the Political
  • Lectures at the College de France, 1975-76: Society Must Be Defended
  • The Politics of Aesthetics
  • Walter Benjamin: Selected Writings, Volume 1, 1913-1926
  • Archive Fever: A Freudian Impression
  • Writing History, Writing Trauma
  • Das Ornament Der Masse: Essays: Weimar Essays
  • The Accursed Share 2-3: The History of Eroticism and Sovereignty
  • Ethics: An Essay on the Understanding of Evil
  • Ethics and Infinity: Conversations with Philippe Nemo

Other Books in the Series

Homo sacer (9 books)
  • Homo Sacer: Sovereign Power and Bare Life
  • State of Exception
  • Stasis: Civil War as a Political Paradigm
  • The Sacrament of Language: An Archaeology of the Oath
  • The Kingdom and the Glory: For a Theological Genealogy of Economy and Government
  • Opus Dei: An Archaeology of Duty
  • The Highest Poverty: Monastic Rules and Form-of-Life
  • The Use of Bodies

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