The Truths of Poetry

A Dialogue
  • Hilda Schiff


In his Poetics, written circa 330 BC, Aristotle claimed that while poets portrayed what was universally true, historians reported on what was specifically the case.1 The inference points clearly to the philosopher’s notion that although both activities are valid, one is on a higher sphere than the other. Whether we hold this judgment to be just or not, it may be useful to pursue Aristotle’s distinction in relation to Holocaust literature and to compare the nature of historical and imaginative writing on the same subject. What are their separate functions, their place, their status?


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  1. 3.
    Hilda Schiff, Holocaust Poetry (London: Harper Collins; New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1995), p.55.Google Scholar
  2. 5.
    Danuta Czech, Auschwitz Chronicle 1939–45 (London and New York: I.B. Tauris and Co., 1990).Google Scholar
  3. 11.
    Daniel Goldhagen, Hitler’s Willing Executioners (London and New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1996).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 2001

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  • Hilda Schiff

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