At the Mind’s Limits and German-Jewish Symbiosis: Or, Améry on Guilt and the Possibility of Redemption


  • Robert Erlewine Illinois Wesleyan University



Améry, Judaism, theology


At the 50th anniversary of the Jean Améry’s Jenseits von Schuld und Sühne: Bewältigungsversuche eines Überwältigten, published in English as At the Mind’s Limits: Contemplations By a Survivor on Auschwitz and its Realities, this work is garnering increased attention in the Anglophone world. Perhaps it should not be surprising that there is increased interest in this book at this moment when our attention is repeatedly drawn to the plight of immigrants and exiles, state sanctioned use of torture, and police violence—all themes At the Mind’s Limits deals with at length. While this recent attention is certainly appropriate, it nevertheless tends to blur the specific and particular socio-political and cultural contours of the work. Améry becomes a writer about the plight of the victim in general, such that specificity of his Jewishness is lost and the already submerged theological dimensions of his work remain obscure.