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Abstract

In his article "'Mad Laughter' in Federman's The Twofold Vibration" Menachem Feuer discusses one of the central questions in the debate over post-Holocaust representation with regard to comedy and laughter. Several authors and filmmakers including Mel Brooks, Lina Wertmüller, Roberto Benigni, Michael Chabon, or Jonathan Safran Foer employ comedy in work. Although the books and films of these authors and filmmakers certainly test the limits of representation through the use of comedy in post-Holocaust art, the use of "mad laughter" in the work of Raymond Federman to represent the Holocaust stands out as the most important exploration of post-Holocaust comedy today. Feuer argues that Federman's text traverses the fine line between a self-referential text, which alludes only to itself and not to any extrinsic historical referent (such as the Holocaust) and a form of laughter that is intimately connected to the trauma of the Holocaust. Further, the novelty of Federman's textual forays is the simultaneous exaltation of the self-referential to the level of what Susan Sontag would call camp style and the rigorous awareness of historical trauma. Federman shows readers that "mad laughter" can preserve history and a self-referential sensibility which sees itself as textual and desires to recreate itself through (inter)textuality.

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