Babij Jar: lo sterminio taciuto e l’arte dell’eufemismo

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If we were to compare the poems that Ilya Ehrenburg and Evgenii Evtushenko wrote about Babii Iar – the place of the mass extermination of what Jewish population was left in Kiev after the Nazis took the town – the former should probably be considered a higher achievement. Its poetic quality derives markedly from the use of allusion, of the unsaid, opening the way to a vast semantic space; it originates, however, from necessity: Ehrenburg, writing in 1945, was in all likelihood looking for a way to express the mourning for the victims of Babii Iar in a time when it was not possible to do it in a more direct way – in its first publication, the poem carried no title, and the connection to the concrete historical event needed as well to be caught by deduction.The effect of Evtushenko’s text, on the other hand – the effect on the poet’s career included – is based on its explicitness only: it should naturally be maintained as a work of a more political than poetic value. It should be remembered, however, that Evtushenko was striving for a renewal of poetry by the inclusion of markedly unpoetic material, of which political language can be considered an instance just as Maiakovskii’s foul language.
Original languageItalian
Title of host publicationTempo e Shoah: Politiche dell'oblio e forme testimoniali
Number of pages18
Publication statusPublished - 2020

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