Part Four
in Beyond Ambiguity
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The Inherent Reciprocities of Memoir-making: On the Memoirs of Evelyn Shakir and George Ellenbogen. This section was written to accompany the co-publication of earlier memoirs of Shakir and Ellenbogen in French- and German-language editions (this ‘introduction’ is unpublished prior to this in English), but also in the context of this work as whole (I discussed the context with George Ellenbogen). Sharing a life, as Shakir and Ellenbogen did, is focalised through a ‘disparity’ of heritages and histories that would seem in discourse to be in opposition, but are reconciled in their compassion, empathy and willingness to retain their own identities while respecting and in fact sharing each other’s, and also the communities they come out of. In some ways, this is the pivotal section of the book, as it moves towards a giving peace, searching for mutuality in ‘difference’, while always tracing the complexities. As I say in the introduction to Beyond Ambiguity: ‘The section of the “conversations” between Evelyn Shakir and George Ellenbogen in their respective memoirs is pivotal in this attempt. I have long been interested in spaces where, say, Hebrew and Arabic writers can share textuality, and how this reflects on a non-state issue of sharing and co-existence ... I try to consider divisions as acting as points de repère rather than separations, and I find such traces in these wonderful memoirs written in English.’ Jewish Montreal (with a reaching back into the journey from Europe of the Holocaust), Arab Boston (come out of Lebanon), and the crossing pathways of migration, and an articulating in the world of their ‘nows’, is generative and resilient, and I attempt to trace this.

Beyond Ambiguity

Tracing literary sites of activism


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