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Context, Dilemmas, And Misunderstandings During The Composition And Publication Of An Interrupted Life: Etty Hillesum's Diary, 1941-1943

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Chapter Summary

This chapter reacts to certain criticisms of the composition of, and the preface to, An Interrupted Life. Some commentators said that the diary should have been called 'the fulfilled life'. 'The fulfilled life' might be one's thought after reading the diary, but such a title conveys a more inspirational and pious vision of Etty Hillesum's life. Her existence was in fact interrupted; and indeed, the war years during which Etty Hillesum wrote involved a total disturbance of life and society, and the 'interrupted life' described by the author of the diary concerns both the outside world and its intense influence on her inner world. In Camp Westerbork, Etty Hillesum became the author of the letter which epitomizes her literary talent, her wisdom, her compassion, and her clemency. How someone could express herself so brilliantly in such chaotic circumstances, remains a mystery.

Keywords: An Interrupted Life; Etty Hillesum



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