Critical awareness in the post atomic age: Günther Anders's Diary of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and Ōe Kenzaburō's Hiroshima Notes

Luisa Bienati


In my essay, I propose an unparalleled comparison between the Hiroshima and Nagasaki diary of the German philosopher Günter Anders who recounts his experience in Japan in 1958 at the "IV International Congress on Atomic and Nuclear Weapons and Disarmament" and the diary that the Nobel Prize for Literature of 1994, Ōe Kenzaburō, wrote in 1963 at the "IX World Conference Against Atomic and Hydrogen Bombs in Hiroshima" in Hiroshima. The center of my analysis is the narrative of the catastrophe as seen from the eyes and the different perspectives of those who have devoted themselves to the nuclear war in Europe (Anders) and Japan (Ōe). The difficulties of a “language of the catastrophe” that both authors experience and the moral problems that the nuclear era has placed on both the victims and those who have faced the theme of survival choices in the face of the danger and the fear of "atomic illness" are explored. Also addressed will be the symbolic power of Hiroshima and the message that tragedy leaves to the contemporary man forced to live in this post-atomic era, living with what Anders calls the "promethean gap", the ever more incoherent distance between man and his technical-scientific discoveries.


Ōe Kenzaburō: Günter Anders; diari di Hiroshima

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