Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “At the Mind's Limits: Contemplations by a Survivor on Auschwitz and Its Realities” as Want to Read:
At the Mind's Limits: Contemplations by a Survivor on Auschwitz and Its Realities
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

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

4.3  ·  Rating details ·  496 Ratings  ·  38 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 the autobiography of an extraordinarily acute conscience. With the ear of a poet and the eye of a n
Paperback, 128 pages
Published March 1st 2009 by Indiana University Press (first published 1966)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about At the Mind's Limits, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about At the Mind's Limits

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
Rating details
Sort: Default
Una strana sensazione nasce dalla lettura di questo straordinario libro, che in situazione ‘normale’ potrebbe essere molto bella: essere lettore, o spettatore in sala, e allo stesso tempo essere anche 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 questa breve opera potente e densa, che alla luce dell’imperativo categorico kantiano, nel
Σωτήρης  Αδαμαρέτσος
Δεν μπορώ να δώσω περιγραφή ενός τέτοιου έργου. Πως θα τολμούσα άλλωστε να γράψω κάτι για το magnus opus ενός ανθρώπου που επέζησε από το κολαστήριο (κυριολεκτική λέξη) του Άουσβιτς, για έναν άνθρωπο που βασανίστηκε σκληρά κ έζησε στο πετσί του (πάλι κυριολεκτική λέξη) όλη τη ζωώδη αισθητική του Γ' Ράιχ;
Είναι τυχερός που έπιασα αυτό το έργο.

Ο Αμερυ, σχεδόν 20 χρόνια μετά την λήξη του πολέμου κ μέσα σε μια αμήχανα σιωπή κ αδιαφορία στην Γερμανία, ξεσκίζει (κυριολεκτική λέξη) το παραπετασμα κ ωρ
Apr 17, 2015 rated it it was amazing
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
Jan 15, 2016 added it
Shelves: 2016

When he crossed the border into exile in Belgium, and had to take on himself the Jewish quality of homelessness, of being elsewhere, être ailleurs, he did not yet know how hard it would be to endure the tension between his native land as it became ever more foreign and the land of his foreign exile as it became ever more familiar. Seen in this light, Améry's suicide in Salzburg resolved the insoluble conflict between being both at home and in exile, "entre le foyer et le lontain."
- W. G. Sebald,
Nelson Wattie
Sep 21, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In Austria, Jean Améry is still remembered and quoted as the country’s most authentic commentator on the Holocaust and on the moral implications of Jewishness for Jews and non-Jews alike. Outside Austria he seems to be read only by a smaller audience. This is regrettable.
In part it is due to his deliberate avoidance of a position in the literary mainstream. He lived in Belgian exile and used a French version of his original name (Hans Meyer) because of the inner pain he associated with his home,
Sep 12, 2010 rated it liked it
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
May 07, 2017 added it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Europe
Shelves: war, philosophy, fascism
It would be particularly horrible to rate these Holocaust ruminations with gold stars but suffice to say that Europe has never come to terms with the events between 1933 and 1945, and in these times of economic regression and politically normalized ethnic tensions it should be mandatory to read Améry. Piercing observations from a cultured mind on the specificity of torture's everlasting trauma, homelessness, vacuous jewishness and the limits of philosophy.
Ozgur Sevgi
Aug 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Sophisticated and brilliant narrative. The refusal of a superficial forgiveness, the right to feel resentment, the insistence on the specificity and the uniqueness of the experience were extremely powerful. A must read for everyone, but especially for people working on reconciliation, in the sense that it shows the inherent limits, aporias and contradictions of the task.
Marcos Francisco Muñoz
Indispensable lectura, y sería recomendable ser el primer libro de Améry que uno debería leer.
Austero, pero firme. El estilo del libro puede parecer un poco seco para alguien que espere un texto cargado de sentimentalismos (sobre todo, debido al tema que trata), pero Jean Améry evade eso y simplemente te cuenta su experiencia y su lucha consigo mismo y con lo que fue hecho de él.
Nov 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I think it will be a long while and a few more cover-to-cover reads before I can even remotely process this book or offer any personal reaction.

For now - suffice to say - I think its something that every human on earth should read.
Alice Adder
Feb 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: holocaust
Jean Amery is an amazing writer and his narrative of Auschwitz is unique, as he intended it to be. This book will engage your mind more then your sentiment.
Alfredo González
La filosofía en el Holocausto.
May 31, 2017 rated it it was amazing
one of those few books which contains only facts about life learned by experiencing and suffering, with no lies told to oneself or repeated from others, suitable even in your darkest hour
Jan 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Harrowing and hard to read. He deals with issues that you would rather not read about.
May 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Emilio Renzi
Mar 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Una estupenda reflexión en torno a la idea del suicidio y de su ejecución concebidas como otro ámbito del ejercicio de la libertad. Améry refuta la distinción entre muerte natural y antinatural para escindir las concepciones individuales y colectivas sobre el final de la vida, del mismo modo que enfrenta los prejuicios respecto la muerte voluntaria que han hecho de los suicidas sujetos que deben ser negados por sus sobrevivientes.
This book is definitely not what I was expecting, and I am still unsure what to think bout it. In this book, Amery has adopted an approach to analyzing his own experiences in the Holocaust while completely avoiding any mention of specific events. Amery fled Austria after the pronouncement of the Nuremberg Laws, upon realizing that although the was non-practicing, he would be considered a Jew by the National Socialist. He fled to Belgium, joined the resistance, and was tortured before being sent ...more
1/15/17: Read "Torture" (p.21-40).
David Anderson
Sep 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Though I know the basic historical facts, I've not read any of the literature of Holocaust survivors (such as Elie Wiesel and Primo Levi). I was not sure I wanted to. After reading this brief text, I'm still not sure I want to. It was as difficult and harrowing a read as you can imagine. But my sister sent this a birthday present and, though initially somewhat mystified by her choice, I'm glad she did. In fact, I think I may have absorbed all I need to know about the lasting emotional and psycho ...more
Jul 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing
At the Mind’s Limit is an incredible work. Améry’s story is heart-wrenching, his arguments compelling and thought-provoking, his writing beautifully crafted and his delivery intense, brutally honest, and by his own admission devoid of tact or pretense. Améry specifically highlights the experience of intellectuals in the camp; Auschwitz represented a daily assault on the basic, seemingly inalienable precepts of logic and humanity, which was especially mind-blowing for an intellectual who was used ...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
Stephen Cranney
I'm surprised that this work isn't as well known as Eli Wiesel's. The writing is certainly better and the messages are more profound. I see it as the counterpart to Viktor Frank's "Man's Search for Meaning." Those both converge to the same existential conclusions about religion and meaning in the death camps, but from two opposite sides-Frankl as the spiritual minded individual and Amery as the staunch secularist. The whole book is very insightful and is required reading, but especially the chap ...more
May 05, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Mar 25, 2009 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.
Mar 27, 2012 rated it really liked it
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.
Alison Lafferty
Jun 21, 2016 rated it liked it
Initially difficult to parse and sort of grandiose, this book quickly became a passionate and articulate discourse on how Jewish people reconcile the horrors of Auschwitz and the Holocaust. I'm so glad I read this; parts of what Amery explains as his Jewish identity are things I've never had to think about as a non-Jewish person. And it's not that long, either.
Dec 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Améry fled Austria, then joined the resistance in Belgium, then was sent to Auschwitz. We should listen, right? Luckily he's got plenty to say, and strong skills in how to say it. These essays are powerful and challenging even today.

Vital stuff.
Jan 15, 2009 rated it really liked it
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.
Joe Rodeck
Apr 08, 2016 rated it liked it
Good essays. Actually it is more of a short philosophy book by an Auschwitz survivor than a book about the Holocaust. I can better understand the Aryan hatred of Jews, but I still need help understanding, for example, the question of why didn't the Nazis instead run the Jews out of the country?
Mar 21, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: have-read
Jean Amery searches for the moral truth of his experiences at Auschwitz in 4 beautifully reflective and semi-philosophical essays.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Auschwitz and After
  • Remnants of Auschwitz: The Witness and the Archive
  • Notes from the Warsaw Ghetto
  • Nine Suitcases: A Memoir
  • Literature or Life
  • The Drowned and the Saved
  • Still Alive: A Holocaust Girlhood Remembered
  • Facing The Extreme: Moral Life in the Concentration Camps
  • The Auschwitz Volunteer: Beyond Bravery
  • Auschwitz
  • This Has Happened: An Italian Family in Auschwitz
  • On the Natural History of Destruction
  • The Body in Pain: The Making and Unmaking of the World
  • The Silent Angel
  • Return to Auschwitz
  • Remembering Survival: Inside a Nazi Slave-Labor Camp
  • Fragments of Isabella: A Memoir of Auschwitz
  • The Human Race
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
More about Jean Améry

Nonfiction Deals

  • Hope and Other Luxuries: A Mother's Life with a Daughter's Anorexia
    $19.99 $2.99
  • Manic: A Memoir
    $12.99 $1.99
  • Who Gets What — and Why: The New Economics of Matchmaking and Market Design
    $9.99 $2.99
  • The Card Catalog: Books, Cards, and Literary Treasures
    $19.99 $1.99
  • The Relationship Cure: A 5 Step Guide to Strengthening Your Marriage, Family, and Friendships
    $11.99 $1.99
  • Without a Doubt
    $5.99 $2.49
  • The Effective Executive: The Definitive Guide to Getting the Right Things Done (Harperbusiness Essentials)
    $11.99 $2.99
  • The Trip to Echo Spring: On Writers and Drinking
    $9.99 $3.99
  • Paris Letters
    $14.99 $2.99
  • The Secret History of the Mongol Queens: How the Daughters of Genghis Khan Rescued His Empire
    $13.99 $1.99
  • Fear: Essential Wisdom for Getting Through the Storm
    $13.74 $1.99
  • My Cross to Bear
    $11.24 $1.99
  • The Warrior Ethos
    $6.99 $1.99
  • A Chance in this world
    $5.99 $0.99
  • It's Easier Than You Think: The Buddhist Way to Happiness
    $13.99 $1.99
  • A Deadly Game: The Untold Story of the Scott Peterson Investigation
    $14.99 $1.99
  • Everyday Zen
    $11.24 $1.99
  • Make Good Art
    $9.99 $1.99
  • In Harm's Way: The Sinking of the U.S.S. Indianapolis and the Extraordinary Story of Its Survivors
    $9.99 $2.99
  • Somebody Else's Kids
    $7.99 $1.99
  • Maude
    $2.99 $1.49
  • Here Is Where: Discovering America's Great Forgotten History
    $10.99 $1.99
  • Mindful Eating: A Guide to Rediscovering a Healthy and Joyful Relationship with Food (Revised Edition)
    $13.99 $1.99
  • The Rational Optimist (P.S.)
    $14.49 $2.99
  • Bored and Brilliant: How Spacing Out Can Unlock Your Most Productive & Creative Self
    $13.99 $2.99
  • Of Wolves and Men (Scribner Classics)
    $9.99 $1.99
  • God: A Story of Revelation
    $8.74 $1.99
  • In My Skin: A Memoir of Addiction
    $14.99 $1.99
  • Ben & Jerry's Homemade Ice Cream & Dessert Book
    $10.95 $1.99
  • The Story of the Jews: Finding the Words, 1000 BC - 1492 AD
    $13.99 $2.99
  • I'm Your Man: The Life of Leonard Cohen
    $11.74 $1.99
  • Belles on Their Toes
    $9.99 $1.99
  • Unseen: The Gift of Being Hidden in a World That Loves to Be Noticed
    $9.99 $2.99
  • The Romanov Sisters: The Lost Lives of the Daughters of Nicholas and Alexandra
    $9.99 $2.99
  • Dharma Punx: A Memoir
    $11.49 $1.99
  • Princesses Behaving Badly: Real Stories from History Without the Fairy-Tale Endings
    $10.99 $1.99
“I am true only as I see and understand myself deep within; I am what I am for myself and in myself, and nothing else.” 10 likes
“[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.” 9 likes
More quotes…