This article asks what the reasons are for the frequent linking of the image of the Holocaust with that of dementia in contemporary discursive and representational practice. In doing so, it analyses some of the numerous 21st-century examples of fiction, drama and film in which the figure of a Holocaust survivor living with dementia takes centre stage. It explores the contradictory cultural effects that arise from making such a connection, in contexts that include expressions of fear at the spectacle of dementia, as well as comparisons between the person living with that condition and the inmate of a concentration camp. Detailed consideration of novels by Jillian Cantor and Harriet Scott Chessman as well as a play by Michel Wallenstein and a film by Josh Appignanesi suggests that the fictions of this kind can appear to provide solace for the impending loss of the eyewitness generation, yet also offer potential for a model for caregiving practice to those living with dementia in broader terms.
- comparative literature studies
- medical humanities
- english literature
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Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.
Competing interests None declared.
Patient and public involvement Patients and/or the public were not involved in the design, or conduct, or reporting or dissemination plans of this research.
Patient consent for publication Not required.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.
Data availability statement There are no data in this work. No data available.