Just as Claude Lanzmann’s artistic influence underpins every aspect of the 1985 film Shoah, so Stuart Liebman’s literary presence resonates throughout this collection of essays. Liebman, professor of film studies at Queens College and the CUNY Graduate Center in New York City, assembled the essays, translated some of the pieces, wrote an introduction, and edited the complete work. Contributing luminaries from the fields of history, Jewish thought, film, literature, and psychoanalysis include Elie Wiesel, Leon Wieseltier, and Simone de Beauvoir.
The essays illuminate Lanzmann’s creative process, artistic choices, and educational goals. There is some overlap, particularly in Parts I and II, and the book need not be read in a linear fashion. Part III offers interesting critiques, balancing earlier sections which laud Lanzmann and Shoah almost hyperbolically.
The collection raises questions about the nature of history, oral testimony, past and present, language, memory, subjectivity, and gender. The research is supported by notes and academic research, yet most of the essays are accessible to the general reader. The book ensures that meaningful discussion about Lanzmann’s film and about its subject will continue far into the future. Claude Lanzmann filmography, film credits, index, notes on contributors, photo gallery, suggestions for further reading.