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Literature or Life
ISBN 0140266240 / 9780140266245 / 0-14-026624-0
Publisher Penguin Books
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Jorge Semprun's riveting book Literature or Life has been 50 years in the making. Half essay, half memoir, the book details the hellish two years the author spent in a German concentration camp during World War II. The facts are simple: while still a teenager, Semprun joined the French Resistance. He was captured in 1943 and sent to Buchenwald. There he remained until the camp was liberated in April of 1945. Those two years shaped all the ones that have followed, as Semprun has struggled to express a living death, an "experience of Radical Evil."
Literature or Life is more than just a memoir of life in the camps and afterward. It is a meditation on the power of language to process experience. Through his novels, screenplays, and poetry, Semprun has revisited the central events of his life; now, so many years later, he looks back again, this time without the filter of fiction, to reexamine his life, his writing, and his memory of death. [via]