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Witnesses And Victims Of Massacre: The Literary Testimony Of Samuel Usque And Etty Hillesum

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Chapter Summary

We know little about the life of Samuel Usque, the author of Consolaçam ás Tribulaçoens de Israel, but the few facts we have reflect the Portuguese Jewish problem. The Jewish question in Portugal cannot be separated from that of the rest of the Iberian Peninsula. In order to contextualize Usque and his work, this chapter looks at the history of Iberian Jewry. One of these conversos who was forced to flee was Usque. His work echoes and foreshadows the Dutch mystic Etty Hillesum. During his formative years Usque had been a direct or indirect witness of the massacre and persecutions and as a converso he was well aware that his life was always at risk. Like Usque, Hillesum considers her task of chronicler of Jewish suffering as sacred. Both were aware that in times of crisis and persecution many people tend to feel abandoned by God and then forsake Him.

Keywords: Consolaçam ás Tribulaçoens de Israel; conversos; Etty Hillesum; Iberian Jewry; massacre; Portuguese Jewish problem; Samuel Usque



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