On Robert Antelme's The Human Race

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ISBN 978-0-8101-6063-7

Trade Paper – $29.95

ISBN 978-0-8101-6064-4
Publication Date
September 2003
Page Count
272 pages
Trim Size
5 1/2 x 8 1/2

On Robert Antelme's The Human Race

Essays and Commentary
Robert Antelme

Rescued in 1945 from Dachau--where François Mitterand, his onetime comrade in the resistance, recognized him among the thousands of quarantined prisoners--Robert Antelme set out to do what seemed "unimaginable," to describe not only his experience but the humanity of his captors. The result, The Human Race, was called by George Perec "the finest example in contemporary French writing of what literature can be."

In this volume, the extraordinary nature and extent of Robert Antelme's accomplishment, and of the reverberations he set in motion in French life and literature, finds eloquent expression. The pieces Antelme wrote for journals--including essays on "principles put to the test," man as the "basis of right," and the question of revenge--appear here alongside appreciations of The Human Race by authors from Perec to Maurice Blanchot to Sarah Kofman. Also included are Antelme's personal recollections and interviews with, among others, Dionys Mascolo (who brought Antelme back from Dachau), Marguerite Duras (Antelme's wife, who tells of his return from Germany), and Mitterand.

About the Author
Robert Antelme was 26 years old when, in 1943, he joined a French Resistance unit in Paris headed by FranHois Mitterand. Betrayed to the Gestapo a year later, Antelme was arrested and deported to Germany, where he worked in a forced-labor camp in Gandersheim until the Spring of 1945 when he was moved to Dachau. After Dachau was liberated by the Americans, Antelme, emaciated and near death, was recognized and rescued from the quarantined camp by Mitterrand. The Human Race (Marlboro Press/Northwestern, 1998) was Antelme's sole publication. He died in 1990.
Jeffrey Haight is also the translator of Antelme's The Human Race (The Marlboro Press/Northwestern, 1998). He currently teaches at Franklin Pierce College and the College for Lifelong Learning of the University System of New Hampshire.