As the child of German-Polish Jews living in Łódź in the 1930s and ‘40s, Jurek Becker sustained losses—of his mother, of his childhood, and of his memories of that time period—that haunted him long into adulthood. A short autobiographical text that he wrote a few months before his death from cancer in 1997, sent in the form of a postcard to his friend Joachim Sartorius, employs a kind of ellipsis, interestingly unmarked by any typographical symbols, that stands in for those losses. What Becker does not write in his postcard text is as important as what he does write. This essay sheds light on the way in which the gaps in Becker’s text serve as the actual communicators of its theme, expands upon Robyn Warhol’s categories of the “unnarratable,” and explores what Becker’s text might tell us about the concept of the unnarrated in general.
Bjornstad, J. (2016). A postcard autobiography: Jurek Becker’s unnarrated response to the Holocaust. Narrative, 24(3), 277–293. https://doi.org/10.1353/nar.2016.0017