Be wary of historical fiction, especially if it’s good. It will forever mix up in your mind what actually happened, or what we can be fairly certain happened, with the inventions of playwrights and novelists, whose aim might be to draw a deeper meaning from events than mere facts can provide, but who do some violence to those puny facts.
Today, the Palestinian enclave of Gaza is known as a flashpoint for conflict that far eclipses its minuscule size. At 140 square miles—sharing an eight-mile frontier with Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula and hugging Israel’s border for nearly 32 miles—the sliver of desert is only twice the area of the District of Columbia.
It’s a few days before the May 25 European Parliament elections, and the streets of Budapest are awash with colorful campaign posters urging Hungarians to vote for delegates to represent their country in Brussels. It would be a shining display of democracy in action, a comforting reminder of Hungary’s ten-year membership in the European Union after decades of repressive communist rule, if not for the fact that…
Since last October, more than 57,000 unaccompanied children—twice as many as the previous year—have crossed our borders illegally. Unsurprisingly, the flood has raised conflicting attitudes among Americans.
Creating art from the events of the Holocaust remains as daunting as ever. Soon, those awful events will move beyond the reach of living memory while the need for testimony grows more pressing, not less. But the responsibilities of art are different from those of history: Theodor Adorno’s much-misrepresented dictum that “it is barbaric to write poetry after Auschwitz” can simply be used as a lazy shorthand for refusing to engage with difficult and challenging creations.