Naming the body of nobody: The topic of truth in Victor Klemperer’s diaries
Victor Klemperer, German philologist and Professor at the University of Dresden, bears testimony to his survival during the Nazi years in his Diaries (1933–1945). Progressively excluded from all social life because of his Jewish religion, Klemperer is forced to recognize himself as a non-subject by the end of the war, calling himself “Nobody” in reference to Ulysses with Polyphemus, the Cyclops. Our article aims to show the mental — cognitive and corporal — process underlying this recognition. Our study will explore the two-pronged thrust of this process: faced with the inexorable destruction of his self, Klemperer has to acknowledge the limits of his analytical capacities. But this extreme experience will enable him to create somatic knowledge destined to recognize what he calls “thought of extinction”. To conclude, we show how this reasoning is based upon action language which consists in naming the body.