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The Wonder of Their VoicesThe 1946 Holocaust Interviews of David Boder$
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Alan Rosen

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780195395129

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195395129.001.0001

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I Could Not Help Wondering

I Could Not Help Wondering

On Boder's Biography and the Idea of Testimony

(p.25) Chapter 1 I Could Not Help Wondering
The Wonder of Their Voices

Alan Rosen

Oxford University Press

This chapter roots the interview project in Boder's Jewish European life and training as well as his transplanted North American surroundings. Little has been previously done to provide a life context for this extraordinary project; what has been done often stands in need of correction. Boder was himself keenly interested in biography (hence the title of his opus, Topical Autobiographies); his own life story shows some remarkable consistencies, even as it tells of living through events of great personal and collective upheaval. His multilingual Latvian–Jewish upbringing set him on a course where languages mattered; he learned early that Jewish tradition provided a vocabulary for catastrophe. He studied with one of psychology's founding masters, Wilhelm Wundt, and carried influential impressions for the remainder of his life. His training in psychology thereafter was blended with literature, all of which came to fruition in St. Petersburg's ethnographically alert metropolis. As a Russian Civil War refugee with a young daughter, he knew the difficulties of displacement and relocation. Both his daughter and psychology became the passions that oriented his life. The latter gave him the inspiration to undertake the DP interview project, where many of his skills found their eloquent expression.

Keywords:   multilingual, psychology, Latvia, literature, refugees, Wilhelm Wundt, biography

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