chapter  4
“I do remember terrible dark things, and loss, and noise”: Historical Trauma and Its Narrative Representation in Sebastian Barry’s The Secret Scripture
ByRUDOLF FREIBURG
Pages 17

Mal d'archive, more conspicuously perhaps than fever, simultaneously refers to a desire informing the delving for archives and to the harrowing lack of documents and traces. It moreover subterraneously seems to indicate that the very act of constituting an archive is painful in itself, which we are willing to believe, if one considers that it took Daniel Mendelsohn several years to write his book, not to mention the inevitably devastating confrontation with the few surviving witnesses of part of his family's destruction during the Shoah. Daniel Mendelsohn starts from his childhood puzzlement at the lack of information on the disappearance of his great-uncle, great-aunt, and four daughters, 'killed by the Nazis' at an imprecise moment during World War II, in his family's birthplace, Bolechow, a small town in Galicia that successively belonged to the Austro-Hungarian Empire, was invaded by Soviet troops, then by German ones, to end up being part of the Ukraine.