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Unformatted text preview: ORIGINAL PAPER ‘‘Into Eternity’s Certain Breadth’’: Ambivalent Escapes in Markus Zusak’s The Book Thief Jenni Adams Published online: 13 July 2010 Ó Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010 Abstract This article examines the consolatory possibilities presented by Markus Zusak’s recent crossover novel The Book Thief , investigating the degree to which the novel delivers the simultaneous consolation and confrontation identified with children’s and young adults’ Holocaust texts by such critics as Adrienne Kertzer and Lawrence Baron. Contending that the supernatural nature of the novel’s redemptive imagery ultimately undermines its apparently consolatory purpose, the article concludes with an analysis of the extent to which such a reading is complicated by the novel’s status as crossover text, and the triangular gaze that might subsequently be attributed to its adult readers. Keywords Holocaust literature Á Crossover fiction Á Consolation Á Death Markus Zusak’s The Book Thief , originally published in 2005, is a recent crossover bestseller by an Australian children’s writer of German emigrant parents. While the novel’s marketing has varied according to the country of its publication, in the United Kingdom the text was published simultaneously for adults and teenagers, in the dual editions frequently associated with the publication and marketing of crossover texts. The book charts the wartime experience of a German girl, Liesel Meminger, who is fostered by a family in Molching, near Munich, in the years preceding the outbreak of World War II. In 1940, the Hubermanns begin to shelter a Jew in their basement, and the experience of concealing Max, coupled with her Jenni Adams is an associate university teacher at the University of Sheffield, England. Her research addresses the topic of magic realist representation in Holocaust literature. J. Adams ( & ) Department of English Literature, University of Sheffield, Jessop West, 1 Upper Hanover Street, Sheffield S3 7RA, UK e-mail: [email protected] 123 Children’s Literature in Education (2010) 41:222–233 DOI 10.1007/s10583-010-9111-2 witnessing of the forced marches of Jewish prisoners from the nearby concentration camp at Dachau, mobilises Liesel’s resistance to the Nazi regime. Such resistance takes the form of both an increasing loyalty to Max and an engagement in the practice of book theft, an activity that is also closely related to Liesel’s mourning of both her brother’s death and her mother’s disappearance. What makes the novel unusual for a Holocaust text is its narration by Death, a potentially disturbing figure who nevertheless functions to mediate the harsh realities of the novel’s subject matter, enabling Zusak to accommodate the conflicting expectations surrounding Holocaust literature aimed at children and young adults. I refer here to the observations of Lydia Kokkola ( 2003 ) and others regarding the atypicality of Holocaust material as a subject matter for young...
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This note was uploaded on 01/31/2012 for the course POL 2107 taught by Professor Bourgault during the Spring '08 term at University of Ottawa.
- Spring '08
- Political Science