Liliane Atlan is a postwar French Jewish writer whose plays, poetry and narratives display innovative forms at the limit of written and oral literature. Atlan’s consciousness of Jewish identity—like that of other French intellectuals d’origine juive (of Jewish origin)—was profoundly affected by the German Occupation and the collaborationist regime of Vichy. The crucial question that has informed her artistic production, to use her own words, consists in seeking: how to integrate within our conscience, without dying in the attempt, the shattering experience of Auschwitz. Atlan has assumed the traditional role of Jewish intellectual as preserver of memory and commemorator of catastrophe.
Thematically, the author draws on personal memories of the Occupation, testimonials of Holocaust survivors, investigation of historical archives and her intensive study of Jewish literature. Atlan explicitly inscribes Jewish identity in the themes of her writing, while implicitly inscribing her Jewishness in formal elements that interweave, within texts written in French, the liturgical rhythms and syntactical patterns of secular and sacred Jewish texts, linguistic traces of Hebrew, Ladino and Yiddish, and a lexicon rich in Jewish mystical imagery.
Atlan presently resides and works in Paris. Her two children, Miri Keren and Michaël Atlan, and her six grandchildren live in Israel. Liliane died in Israel in 2012.
Marguerite Feitlowitz is an author and translator whose work has focused on the way disaster affects our relationship to language. She is the author of A Lexicon of Terror: Argentina and the Legacies of Torture, a 1998 New York Times Notable Book and a finalist the L.L. Winship/PEN New England Award. Her most recent book translation is Pillar of Salt: An Autobiography with Nineteen Erotic Sonnets, by Salvador Novo (University of Texas Press, 2014). She co-guest edited the Spring 2014 issue of Review: Literature and Arts of the Americas, whose theme is "Beyond Violence: Toward Justice" She is a professor of Literature at Bennington College in Vermont. She lives in Washington DC.
Black and white photos
Small Bibles for Bad Times: Selected Poems and Prose of Liliane Atlan