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At the Mind's Limits: Contemplations by a Survivor on Auschwitz and Its Realities

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4.3 of 5 stars 4.30  ·  rating details  ·  279 ratings  ·  14 reviews
"These are pages that one reads with almost physical pain...all the way to its stoic conclusion." --Primo Levi

"The testimony of a profoundly serious man.... In its every turn and crease, it bears the marks of the true." --Irving Howe, New Republic

"This remarkable memoir...is the autobiography of an extraordinarily acute conscience. With the ear of a poet and the eye of a n
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Paperback, 128 pages
Published March 1st 2009 by Indiana University Press (first published 1966)
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Jason Styles
If everyone in the U.S. read this book, the public debate over the use of torture would be immediately resolved... and everyone would realize how thoroughly we've betrayed our own humanity in the course of this so-called "war on terror."
A.
This is an incredibly difficult book. Despite it being fairly short, it took me about a month to complete because of the breaks I had to take between essays. Améry brings deep philosophical insight, literary precision, and unflinching honesty to these essays about his experiences under the Third Reich. His discussion of torture is truly dreadful, and should be required reading for all Americans, especially now that we've decided to re-open the debate and approach the practice with a dispassionat ...more
Catherine
It's hard to quantify At The Mind's Limits. It's a terribly intellectual work - not in the sense of some high-handed cultural definition, but in the sense that it is cerebral; one man's wrestling with what the Holocaust means for him and the mental structures, ideas, and processes that have defined him at some point or another in his life. The text is stripped of most emotion - anger and despair linger, but there is little positive emotion in the book; most pointedly Améry never expresses compas ...more
orsodimondo
FINE PENA MAI
Una strana sensazione mi nasce dalla lettura di questo straordinario libro, e in situazione ‘normale’ potrebbe essere molto bella: quella di essere lettore, o spettatore in sala, ed essere allo stesso tempo protagonista nelle pagine o sullo schermo.

Lo si deve alla qualità del pensiero e del punto di vista di Améry, guerrigliero della ragione, come lo definisce Claudio Magris nella presentazione di quest’opera breve e densa, che alla luce dell’imperativo categorico kantiano, nella su
...more
Claire S
from Wikipedia:

Améry's efforts to preserve the memory of the Holocaust focused on the terror and horror of the events in a phenomenological and philosophical way, with what he characterized as "a scant inclination to be conciliatory".[3:] His explorations of his experiences and the meaning and legacy of Nazi-era suffering were aimed not at resolving the events finally into "the cold storage of history",[4:] but rather keeping the subject alive so that it would not be lost to posterity, as an abs
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Johannes Schmidt
This is, in my opinion, the most depressing analysis of Auschwitz. Not because of horrific descriptions, which are to some extent absence, but because of the implications Améry alludes to, namely, that no matter what you do (and he cannot do anything else than to recognize and to remember) evil will always be a part of the human condition. And maybe there is no goodness at all. Once the trust in the world is has been destroyed (and that is what Auschwitz did), it can never be restored.
Susan
This is quite a follow-up on The Shawl by Cynthia Ozick. What Amry does is to set out the range of consequences for someone who survives brutality, in his case Auschwitz. But the ideas in this book have wider application. Consider the imprisonment of refugees in detention centres; consider the political violence against marginialised peoples; consider the home grown continuing violence against women in both public and private spaces. An important book. ...more
Andrew
Apr 01, 2009 Andrew added it
Shelves: essays
Dude survived Auschwitz and went on to kill himself. This is some bleeeeeak shit. Nevertheless, it's still brilliant. Each essay manages to be both philosophically rigorous and profoundly moving. The title is appropriate-- each essay maps out the peripheries of human existence. It's harrowing, and harrowing often without a redemptive conclusion, but you still get the feeling that what you're reading is essential.
Travis
This book is heavy. The experiences of the author clearly show a man devoid of feeling human. It is impossible for me to fathom the depths of despair, the horror, the complete erosion of personhood that the contents of the book display. How did this ever happen? This book left me extremely sad, angry and heartbroken from the experiences detailed within its pages.
Thomas
Geen vijf sterren omdat het een totaal plezierloos boek is. Geschreven door Améry die in Auschwitz zat, daar o.a. Primo Levi ontmoette en ook op dezelfde lijn zit als hem, met andere woorden over hetzelfde thema schrijft. De mens ontdaan van al zijn illusies, levende in angst.
Cecilia
I have found his writings necessary. He shares persuasively that striking back, though you will die for it, is the thing you must do.
Maria
Jean Amery searches for the moral truth of his experiences at Auschwitz in 4 beautifully reflective and semi-philosophical essays.
Treena
A brilliant intellectual discussion of the psychological implications of being a victim and what this can tragically lead to.
Jeff
I can tell from his criticisms of "Eichmann in Jerusalem" that he hadn't read it when he wrote this.
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  • Forgotten Voices of The Holocaust: A new history in the words of the men and women who survived
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Jean Améry (October 31, 1912 – October 17, 1978), born Hanns Chaim Mayer, was an Austrian essayist whose work was often informed by his experiences during World War II.
Formerly a philosophy and literature student in Vienna, Améry's participation in organized resistance against the Nazi occupation of Belgium resulted in his detainment and torture by the German Gestapo, and several years of imprison
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“[F]or me, being a Jew means feeling the tragedy of yesterday as an inner oppression. On my left forearm I bear the Auschwitz number; it reads more briefly than the Pentateuch or the Talmud and yet provides more thorough information. It is also more binding than basic formulas of Jewish existence. If to myself and the world, including the religious and nationally minded Jews, who do not regard me as one of their own, I say: I am a Jew, then I mean by that those realities and possibilities that are summed up in the Auschwitz number.” 7 likes
“Rien n'arrive ni comme on l'espère, ni comme on le craint', dice Proust en algún pasaje de su obra. Nada, en efecto, sucede como lo esperamos ni como lo tememos.” 4 likes
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