‘Lightning flashes of my burning memory’
Dissociation and trauma in a second-generation perpetrator novella by Thomas Lehr
Thomas Lehr’s novella Frühling (Spring, 2001) presents the last seconds of the fifty-year-old protagonist’s life – between the moment he shoots himself and the advent of his death. As an adolescent he realised he was the child of a perpetrator father who conducted human experiments on inmates as a Nazi concentration camp doctor. Written in an extreme variant of autonomous inner monologue, the novella interlaces perceptions and memories without transition. The textual structure dissects these incidents, as the syntax is often destroyed by punctuation marks and irregular orthography. At one point, the first-person narrator chooses the formula ‘lightning flashes of my burning memory’, which aptly describes Lehr’s poetic technique, reminiscent of traumatic flashback. This article argues that the protagonist undergoes residual experiences of dissociation as a result of his insurmountable entanglement in the guilt of the father. Thus, Frühling is a radical and disturbing literary treatment of trauma.
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