The Journal of Value Inquiry

, Volume 48, Issue 3, pp 457–468 | Cite as

Unthinkable ≠ Unknowable: On Charlotte Delbo’s ‘II Faut Donner à Voir’

  • Paul Prescott

This is my sister here, with some unidentifiable friend and many other people. They are all listening to me and it is this very story [the story of Auschwitz] that I am telling … [I] speak diffusely of our hunger and of the lice-control, and of the Kapo who hit me on the nose and then sent me to wash myself as I was bleeding. It is an intense pleasure, physical, inexpressible, to be at home, among friendly people and to have so many things to recount: but I cannot help noticing that my listeners do not follow me. In fact, they are completely indifferent: they speak confusedly of other things among themselves, as if I was not there. My sister looks at me, gets up and goes away without a word.

Primo Levi1

The Holocaust, we are often told, is a mystery, the depths of which can never be fully sounded. If there is one thing that otherwise disparate analysts, historians, and commentators on the Nazi genocide in Europe by and large agree upon, it is that their subject is in some sense...


Domestic Abuse Everyday World World Theory Jewish Intellectual Communist Party Member 
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Acknowledgments to Linda Martín Alcoff, Michael Stocker, Margaret Urban Walker, and an anonymous reviewer for The Journal of Value Inquiry for helpful comments on previous drafts of this paper.

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophySyracuse UniversitySyracuseUSA

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