International Conference on Etty Hillesum – Comparatistas – english version

International Conference on Etty Hillesum


Date: 18-20 May 2019
Venue: Capela do Rato, Lisboa e Faculdade de Letras da Universidade de Lisboa, Lisboa


Only after the publication of the Portuguese translation of Etty Hillesum’s work entitled Diário (translation of Het verstoorde leven) in 2008 and Cartas (Letters) in 2009 did the author become known in Portugal. In her writings, Hillesum, a Jewish, Dutch woman murdered in Auschwitz, left us her most intimate thoughts as well as her testimony of the horrors she faced at  the Westerbork Concentration Camp.

In 1981, Het verstoorde leven (literally, An interrupted life) a selection from her diaries, written between 1941 and 1943, was published for the first time and translated into more than fifteen languages, including Portuguese. The introduction by Jan Geurt Gaarlandt enhances a mystical aura of martyrdom implied by the selection he made from her diary while compromising historical, philological gender aspects. Hence, a complete academic edition of her diary and letters came to see the light in 1986.

Hillesum’s choice in not trying to escape the fate that the Nazis had dictated and her refusal to hate the enemy have triggered  much debate. In her writing she is aware of the impossibility but, at the same time, the need to represent the Holocaust.

This first congress devoted to Etty Hillesum’s oeuvre in Portugal aims to broaden the ‘translation’ of her work, understood in the traditional sense of the word, into other hermeneutical processes of transferring or rendering trauma and memory.

Keynote Speakers:

Prof. Klaas Smelik (Ghent Univ.)

Prof. Ria van den Brandt (Radboud Univ.)

Joint activity between clusters MOV. Moving Bodies: circulations, narratives, and archives in translation (LOCUS group) and Aesthetics of Memory and Emotions (MORPHE). The admission is free.

This work is financed by national funds through the FCT - Foundation for Science and Technology, I.P., within the scope of the project UIDB/00509/2020 and UIDP/00509/2020.