At the Mind's Limits by Jean Améry

At the Mind's Limits

"These are pages that one reads with almost physical pain...all the way to its stoic conclusion." --Primo Levi"The testimony of a profoundly serious man.... In its every turn and crease, it bears the marks of the true." --Irving Howe, New Republic"This remarkable the autobiography of an extraordinarily acute conscience. With the ear of a poet and the eye of a novelist, Amery vividly communicates the wonder of a philosopher--a wonder h...

Details At the Mind's Limits

TitleAt the Mind's Limits
Release DateMar 1st, 2009
PublisherIndiana University Press
GenreWorld War II, Holocaust, History, Nonfiction, Philosophy, Autobiography, Memoir, War

Reviews At the Mind's Limits

  • Nelson Wattie
    In Austria, Jean Améry is still remembered and quoted as the country’s most authentic commentator on the Holocaust and on the moral implications of Jewishness for Jews and non-Jews alike. Outside Austria he seems to be read only by a smaller audience. This is regrettable.In part it is due to his deliberate avoidance of a position in the literary mainstream. He lived in Belgian exile and used a French version of his original name (Hans Meyer) b...
  • David Anderson
    Though I know the basic historical facts, I've not read any of the literature of Holocaust survivors (such as Elie Wiesel and Primo Levi). I was not sure I wanted to. After reading this brief text, I'm still not sure I want to. It was as difficult and harrowing a read as you can imagine. But my sister sent this a birthday present and, though initially somewhat mystified by her choice, I'm glad she did. In fact, I think I may have absorbed all I n...
  • A. Redact
    This is an incredibly difficult book. Despite it being fairly short, it took me about a month to complete because of the breaks I had to take between essays. Améry brings deep philosophical insight, literary precision, and unflinching honesty to these essays about his experiences under the Third Reich. His discussion of torture is truly dreadful, and should be required reading for all Americans, especially now that we've decided to re-open the d...
  • Jo
    It hurts when you realise that you will never have the opportunity to talk with a kindred spirit in person. How I wish that Améry were alive.
  • Julia
    In order to better understand the relationship between Germans and Jews, you should definitely read this one. I won’t say anything about the content, as It would just spoil. Améry is sharing his thoughts as an intellectual, but also as a Holocaust survivor. He is trying to look into the future here and well, this already 60 years ago. You might ask yourself now, if he predicted anything, but that’s not really the reason for reading it. This ...
  • Catherine
    It's hard to quantify At The Mind's Limits. It's a terribly intellectual work - not in the sense of some high-handed cultural definition, but in the sense that it is cerebral; one man's wrestling with what the Holocaust means for him and the mental structures, ideas, and processes that have defined him at some point or another in his life. The text is stripped of most emotion - anger and despair linger, but there is little positive emotion in the...
  • Ozgur Sevgi
    Sophisticated and brilliant narrative. The refusal of a superficial forgiveness, the right to feel resentment, the insistence on the specificity and the uniqueness of the experience were extremely powerful. A must read for everyone, but especially for people working on reconciliation, in the sense that it shows the inherent limits, aporias and contradictions of the task.
  • Dafydd Gwaredd
    The thinness of this book belies the author's chilling, powerful and profound narrative and philosophical reflections of his experiences being tortured by the Gestapo and then imprisoned in a concentration camp by German Nazis. He also discusses his post-war experiences and ideas on the relativeness of personal/ethnic/religious/societal/national identity and the psychological damaging, permanent effects that result when security and safety as an ...
  • Mads Emil
    "The first result was always the total collapse of the esthetic view of death. What I am saying is familiar. The intellectual, and especially the intellectual of German education and culture, bears this esthetic view of death within him. It was his legacy from the distant past, at the very latest from the time of German romanticism. It can be more or less characterized by the names Novalis, Schopenhauer, Wagner, and Thomas Mann. For death in its ...
  • Bree
    I think it will be a long while and a few more cover-to-cover reads before I can even remotely process this book or offer any personal reaction. For now - suffice to say - I think its something that every human on earth should read.
  • Alice Adder
    Jean Amery is an amazing writer and his narrative of Auschwitz is unique, as he intended it to be. This book will engage your mind more then your sentiment.
  • Dr. Abhijit
    Outstanding read
  • Maia
    one of those few books which contains only facts about life learned by experiencing and suffering, with no lies told to oneself or repeated from others, suitable even in your darkest hour
  • Caitlín
    Harrowing and hard to read. He deals with issues that you would rather not read about.
  • SpaceBear
    This book is definitely not what I was expecting, and I am still unsure what to think bout it. In this book, Amery has adopted an approach to analyzing his own experiences in the Holocaust while completely avoiding any mention of specific events. Amery fled Austria after the pronouncement of the Nuremberg Laws, upon realizing that although the was non-practicing, he would be considered a Jew by the National Socialist. He fled to Belgium, joined t...
  • Jillian
    At the Mind’s Limit is an incredible work. Améry’s story is heart-wrenching, his arguments compelling and thought-provoking, his writing beautifully crafted and his delivery intense, brutally honest, and by his own admission devoid of tact or pretense. Améry specifically highlights the experience of intellectuals in the camp; Auschwitz represented a daily assault on the basic, seemingly inalienable precepts of logic and humanity, which was ...
  • Stephen Cranney
    I'm surprised that this work isn't as well known as Eli Wiesel's. The writing is certainly better and the messages are more profound. I see it as the counterpart to Viktor Frank's "Man's Search for Meaning." Those both converge to the same existential conclusions about religion and meaning in the death camps, but from two opposite sides-Frankl as the spiritual minded individual and Amery as the staunch secularist. The whole book is very insightfu...
  • Susan
    This is quite a follow-up on The Shawl by Cynthia Ozick. What Amry does is to set out the range of consequences for someone who survives brutality, in his case Auschwitz. But the ideas in this book have wider application. Consider the imprisonment of refugees in detention centres; consider the political violence against marginialised peoples; consider the home grown continuing violence against women in both public and private spaces. An important...
  • Travis
    This book is heavy. The experiences of the author clearly show a man devoid of feeling human. It is impossible for me to fathom the depths of despair, the horror, the complete erosion of personhood that the contents of the book display. How did this ever happen? This book left me extremely sad, angry and heartbroken from the experiences detailed within its pages.
  • Ali Lafferty
    Initially difficult to parse and sort of grandiose, this book quickly became a passionate and articulate discourse on how Jewish people reconcile the horrors of Auschwitz and the Holocaust. I'm so glad I read this; parts of what Amery explains as his Jewish identity are things I've never had to think about as a non-Jewish person. And it's not that long, either.
  • David
    Améry fled Austria, then joined the resistance in Belgium, then was sent to Auschwitz. We should listen, right? Luckily he's got plenty to say, and strong skills in how to say it. These essays are powerful and challenging even today.Vital stuff.
  • Joe Rodeck
    Good essays. Actually it is more of a short philosophy book by an Auschwitz survivor than a book about the Holocaust. I can better understand the Aryan hatred of Jews, but I still need help understanding, for example, the question of why didn't the Nazis instead run the Jews out of the country?
  • Maria
    Jean Amery searches for the moral truth of his experiences at Auschwitz in 4 beautifully reflective and semi-philosophical essays.
  • Jeff
    I can tell from his criticisms of "Eichmann in Jerusalem" that he hadn't read it when he wrote this.