The Memoir vs. Truth

The discussion from my last post on writing personal narrative went into such fascinating territory that I couldn’t resist posting on the hot topic of ‘creative deformation’ in the memoir. The springboard for this topic is the story concerning Vivian Gornick’s memoir of her relationship to her mother, Fierce Attachments. Addressing a group of students on a non-fiction MA programme, Gornick admitted quite casually (and it seems that her ignorance of fault or lack of shame contributed to the horror the audience felt) that some of the scenes were ‘composed’, and that some of her characters were ‘composites’. This brought forth a strong reaction from the students and a series of critical responses in America’s literary media. Forgive me for not posting all the links here but in the previous post’s comments you’ll find links to Salon magazine’s original article and to the debate on NPR between Gornick and Maureen Corrigan. The crux of the debate revolves around the unspoken pact between the reader and the author of autobiography. Those against Gornick argue that readers who choose the genre of memoir, or any kind of personal narrative, have a right to the truth, and they mean this within a certain journalistic standard (one that is itself highly suspect, but I’ll come to that later) that takes the writing closer to reportage than to literature. Readers who do not get the truth will feel that they have been betrayed or duped by the author, led to believe that something actually happened when it did not, and they will then have every justification for anger.

Gornick’s argument is that memoir and autobiography are closer to literature than to journalism, and that the value of a piece of personal narrative lies in what the author makes of the event, rather than its raw material reality. In The Story and the Situation she describes a rafting trip she undertook with her husband and a friend, explaining how, on their return, they all wrote up the experience only to produce three wildly dissimilar narratives. But each one could be understood to be ‘true’ as it contained the significance of the event as it was filtered through each person’s perception. If the memoir was drawn from her life and sought to communicate the truth, not of every word that was spoken and every place that was visited, but of the emotions and responses she experienced, then Gornick considers that her authorial job is done.

In her broadcast repost to Corrigan’s attack she says, very pertinently I think, that she resents being compared to other literary criminals like Jayson Blair and Doris Kearns Goodwin and this is a point to which, notably, Corrigan never responds. Briefly, Jayson Blair was a reporter on the New York Times who turned out to have fabricated much of his reportage and made errors of accuracy in the rest of it. He was sacked, along with the editors who worked with him. Doris Kearns Goodwin is an academic biographer found guilty of widespread plagiarism in her books, which regularly quote her research sources only without the quotation marks left in. Now it strikes me that there are very important distinctions to be made here in the way that readers are being ‘duped’, if you like. To my mind, Jayson Blair is the most guilty of the three as he was paid to deliver a clearly defined form of reportage, which ought to have involved tape recorders, actually meeting his interview subjects and fact-checking. No one was expecting him to rely on his memory or his powers of analysis because it was his job to tell other people’s stories so that his readers would have an accurate basis for their judgments. If you speak for someone else, then you do owe them a responsibility to report accurately, a responsibility that is regularly abused and corrupted in the media. I think it’s fairly classic that journalists are the first to express outrage over Gornick’s actions when their own profession is rife with inaccuracy. Blair is only the tip of the iceberg, I would imagine, and his crimes are replicated by many, many other journalists who are too tired, too short of time and too keen to get a story to maintain the ‘moral’ standards they will regularly foist on others. I’ve yet to get over my own experience of checking online the reviews of Maggie O’Farrell’s novel The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox and finding, out of the five mainstream newspaper reviews I read, three that contained glaring errors. Doris Kearns Goodwin is a simpler case; her crime is one of laziness and lack of professionalism. It’s precisely in not altering the story enough, not actually processing it through her own analytic faculties but borrowing the work of others, that she breaks the rules. The people who get injured in this particular scenario are the writers of other books who fail to be credited for their brain power. This kind of thing is only going to get worse with the internet, so I agree that it must be upheld as a crime whilst having my own fears about the difficulty of policing the criminals.

Whilst this may seem digressive, there is a real point to making these distinctions because it’s important to figure out what gets broken, who gets injured, within these different literary criminal scenarios. Journalists do have an obligation to write as close to the truth as language will permit them because the stories they tell affect how we vote, how we protest against or accede to society’s demands, what we spend our money on, what we consider our ethical actions ought to be. I won’t go on at any length here about how often and how appallingly this pact is broken by journalists obeying the demands of big business. Plagiarists are a kind of fifth column within the publishing world and ought to be removed, although they are a regularly renewing resource. But what to make of the memoirist? Does his or her story really affect the decisions we make about our own lives and those of our children? Let’s keep it real: no. Does the doctored memoir reflect badly on the publishing industry? Well, there are some that say yes, but let’s pause to think what it means to write the story of a life that is worthy of publication.

My favourite comment on this particular problem comes from the renowned Holocaust memoirist, Jorge Semprun. There’s a poignant section of his book L’écriture ou la vie, after his liberation from Auschwitz, in which he awaits the deportation buses with his friends and discusses how they can possibly tell people what has happened to them. Many are adamant that reportage is the only way, that they need camera footage and written documents and testimony. But Semprun is not so sure; only a few days ago he found a group of young women gazing at the chimneys of Auschwitz and wondering aloud whether they were the kitchens. Before he had reached the end of his explanation they had fled, unable to deal with the horror of what he was telling them. No, says Semprun, what’s needed is a bit of art, a bit of artifice. The story has to be told in a way that it can be heard, otherwise we cannot tell it at all. Nowadays we are used to seeing atrocities on television, but back in the 1940s this was not the case; there was a huge work of education to be done for people to comprehend what had occurred, and Semprun knows he is right. The Holocaust always represents the very end of the scale as far as life writing is concerned, but the principle applies to all its variations. Recently I’ve been trying to write about my early experiences as a mother and it’s very difficult to do as so many of them were quite miserable. If I tell them straight, then the result may well be truthful, but it may also be unreadable. There has to be a bit of art, some detachment, some awareness of factors and feelings that had no place in the moment of experience. I will be deforming my experience to make it palatable to the reader who literally demands that act of manipulation from me. If I don’t do it, then I have no reader, in the sense of an absorbing, listening, comprehending witness, at all.

This pact between the memoirist and the reader, one in which the reader asks for both art and truth, is a tricky one to fulfill. And much as I have read a great deal of angry comment by readers being asked to consider their own responsibility in the reading encounter, I’ll risk further wrath by bringing it up again here. Readers are not innocent vessels who simply accept what they see on the page and absorb it without mediation. Readers are always busy (as indeed is wholly correct) sifting through what they read, questioning and analyzing and generally listening out for other stories beyond and below the one with which they are presented. Readers, in other words, have their own essential role to play in the act of making a story mean something, in the extraction of what we might call ‘truth’. They are not victims. One may protest that if a memoir alters its material details then readers are being misled as to the context for their judgments. It’s been suggested in the Gornick story that a simple declaration at the start of the book that indicated certain changes, certain alterations, would have sufficed to give the reader a reasonable handicap. But let’s bear in mind that when Augusten Burroughs did exactly that for his memoir, Dry, he was pilloried in the press for writing fiction and calling it fact. Once again there was the angry declaration that the reader was being betrayed or cheated, which are strong words under the circumstances. I think we have to look very closely at readerly expectations here and wonder what lies behind the emotional force of the response.

I’m not sure I have a full answer for that inquiry, but I do worry that this sense of outrage is based in the current cultural climate of accountability that attempts to regulate our yearning for absolute entitlements. This is always an illusory hope, and one that seeks to bulldoze over the top of deeper, darker feelings that are more difficult to address. And the fear of litigation must surely be an influential factor in the author’s mind these days as well. One kindly blogger reminded me to check with my son whether he minded appearing as an object in print, in case he decided to sue me in later life, I imagine. I duly mentioned it to him and he afforded it a nanosecond of his attention before replying ‘Nah,’ and returning to his computer game. I understood his feelings: he has the rest of his life to get even if he decides I’ve been unjust. But what if I wanted to portray his friends negatively, and their mothers held the accounts of their unreasonable or anti-social behaviour against me? I might well consider a composite character to be an answer to my prayers: the essence of the event transposed onto a figure who couldn’t actually take me to court. These things are a two-way street: the more readers demand accountability from writers, the more writers have to think twice about every word they publish. Do we really want to iron all art, all vibrancy, all controversy out of the memoir and make it impossible to publish unless it has the undeniable dreary accuracy of a church newsletter? (with apologies to lovers of the genre.)

Of course all this is very different to the works that get published as memoirs and turn out to be entire fabrications. But I’ve run out of steam on this issue and wonder what you all think of the situation thus far. And why has it arisen now with such force when I can assure you these issues – involving crooked journalists, academic plagiarists and unreliable memoirs – have been with us since publishing began?

21 thoughts on “The Memoir vs. Truth

  1. I find it fascinating that with the rise of the “memoir” there has been a decline, if not disappearance, of the genre of “autobiographical fiction.” I had a prominent writer-friend in the l970’s, a Gornick contemporary, who wrote books of “autobiographical fiction,” and she described it exactly like the memoirists describe their memoirs today. Could it be that “autobiographical fiction” simply no longer appeals to the marketing departments of publishing companies. It would put the whole issue to rest. I struggle with this line all the time, wavering back and forth. I’m writing the damn book, but I still don’t know which “category” it will end up in. Fiction seems the most honest if anything is made up, as everyone knows fiction is full of material from real life.

  2. Querulous – that’s a very good point. Many years ago when I was writing a PhD on Colette and Marguerite Duras their work defied every genre (considered to be a good thing) and the terms of autobiographical fiction and fictional autobiography were much in use (with lots of fun finely-sliced arguments as to the distinction between them). The nineties brought life writing and this century, everything seems lumped into the memoir. If being made up is the criterion, however, then we may as well call everything fiction. Writing about history is full of speculation and reconstruction, any kind of personal narrative is inevitably distorted by memory and perception, and the gaps of biography are endlessly cobbled by people who were never there. It’s dealing with what different genres do to their factual information that helps, but this seems too nuanced for many. Good luck with the writing, by the way!

  3. Coming at this subject from a slightly different viewpoint, history has always, until Gutenberg’s infernal invention, been written by the winners or their agents. The same surely applies to personal memoirs. While facts have a place in a memoir, surely they are subservient to the effect those facts had on the writer. One merely has to look at the much touted example of the witnesses to a traffic accident to know that, while there is a set of actual facts which could be shown by a time machine or its modern equivalent, the CCTV, each of those facts will be filtered through a mind which was not ready to receive them. The resulting statements, a form of memoir, will all differ.

    The reader’s perception of a memoir will be coloured by the expectations of that reader. Is a photographic recitation of factual material being looked for or are the reactions and distorted memories the object. A chance to look inside the writer to see just how a set of, probably mis-remembered, events has affected not just the author, but those whose lives are also affected by being around and a part of the life of the “rememberer”.

    Oops, you already said that in your reply to the squirrel 🙂

    Good grief – this went deep, considering it is being written at 5:30am!

  4. Well, that is just plain silly. Memoirs have always had some level of inaccuracy from some points of view. Who in the world remembers every single word of every conversation? But there would be no dialogue if it were not for the memoirist filling in the blanks. I think it is important to be as truthful as possible, absolutely. But there is a difference between fact and truth.

    I also think that it is important to shield people by changing some things about their identities. Or, in the case of our children, not publishing what is damaging to them.

    A disclaimer at the beginning ought to cover it, but really, readers of memoir ought to know better. Read the disclaimer at the start of *This Boy’s Life.* It is a thing of beauty.

  5. Hello; I have become a reader here by way of Make Tea Not War and thought I would join in the conversation.

    I’m thinking about the way in which commercial forces in the wider culture might have a role in maintaining genre boundaries. Many readers that I know like to define themselves by which genres they will and won’t read: “I don’t like novels, only non-fiction” or “I like autobiographies”, for example. These kinds of statements can be taken as both an indicator of the speaker’s taste but also of what they think is culturally important, which could be truth, or fantasy, or whatever. Contemporary marketing of books seems to play to this (another new crime thriller from author X), although I guess one could also argue that it determines it to an extent, given that we’re all subject to advertising and its trends.

    I wonder if it’s something about this self-definition-by-genre that might explain why readers of autobiography who find the characters rather more subject to authorial shaping than they would like can feel so cheated? If one places a boundary between fiction and non-fiction, and ascribes cultural value accordingly, to be caught out reading fiction when one thought was was reading something factual or authentic is to feel foolish.

    The catch-all term that was used in my studies to describe autobiography, memoir, diaries and letter writing was epistolary writing, and even though it might be a stretch to apply it to autobiography it’s the term I prefer. For me the common element in all these things is (as the above commenter notes) that the writer is representing themselves, their sense of the world, for another reader. In this regard, they do control the facts, and it doesn’t bother me that they might massage them into something more palatable or exciting. However, I suspect that such omnivorous readers, of the kind who so enjoy this blog, are a minority in the commercial world of buying and selling books.

  6. I’m with you and Gornick. I want art with my memoir. If I want journalism I’ll read the newspaper. I expect a memoirist to tell the truth about her feelings and her experience and how she dealt with life, I don’t care if facts were twisted and tweaked to make the story better. Besides, we all do it. We may not be writing a book, but I’ll bet every single person who complains about memoirs not being “true” has told a friend a story about themselves and changed some of the facts in order to make the story better. I don’t understand what the fuss is about. Maybe we have been exposed to so much reality TV that we want the memoirs we read to be the same train wreck.

  7. These points are very helpful to my own thinking about my own writing project, especially the comment about the car accident witnesses and Colette’s work not falling into any category. (I wrote my Master’s Thesis on her, as well, litlove) And to top it all off, I will add the point that when people who have been raped or sexually abused eventually want to go to court to charge the perpetrator, they are required to document everything they remember before entering any psychotherapy that involves hypnosis, because “recovered memories” are inadmissable in court, created as they may be by the context in which they are remembered. Of course we also remember the same events differently across our lifespans, which is why I love Tim OBrien’s The Things They Carried so much. It shows this. (Whether called fiction or memoir). It is society that forces these categories on us when we publish our work, and then once we choose a category, forces upon us a straightjacket. I had a writer friend who was writing a memoir and I suggested she make a scene more specific and she said “I’d never make up anything in a memoir.” Since she was more accomplished than me, I suppose I learned from her that’s just the way it is. But, you know, it was the dullest memoir I ever read. I suppose it’s time that I actually read Fierce Attachments, now that I’ve cast so many querulous aspersions. This was a very useful discussion. Thanks for hosting it litlove.

  8. Such a tricky subject indeed…I’m wary (not necessarily opposed) to giving too much freedom to memoirists. I say this because I do think we should be allowed to draw some fundamental distinctions between fiction and memoir. I completely agree that we’re talking about art here, and art is its own wild creature and should, in theory, know no bounds but I suppose I want the memoirist to be able to defend why they’ve selected memoir as their medium and the fiction writer to do the same. I think we need to be careful with assumptions/assertions that fiction is full of material from real life…perhaps a fiction writer is inspired by real life, their own or others, but a fiction writer’s prism and set of tools are not the same as a memoirist – not at all.

    I agree wholeheartedly that journalists have a different standard – theirs is accuracy and keeping to the most objective narrator possible, while a memoirist’s job is honing or finding the persona (themself) to be the narrator for their own story. I take the point that a story told this way will be different from the same story told by another person. Experience is completely subjective, that is what makes memoir such a powerful medium. But I draw the line at invention in memoir. I believe that art and truth don’t have to be mutually exclusive, it may just require a hell of a lot of hard work on the memoirist’s side to get at the truth through their art.

    Your question about reader responsibility is a good one and one I’m going to have to think more about. I’m unsure how I feel on this issue – on the one hand, if a story (memoir or no) speaks to me, why do I care whether it is fact or fiction? That’s a valuable question. The James Frey blow-up about his “memoir” A Million Little Pieces is one we discussed in my book group. In that story, which he claimed at first was true, he offered a highly-suspect method for overcoming substance abuse and claimed it was what he did, successfully…how much responsibility does he have toward his readers when it turns out he made a lot of stuff up? Arguably, none – what his readers do with his “story” is none of his business. But that story is particularly frustrating because it has turned out he wrote his manuscript as fiction, was rejected, rewrote it as “memoir”, submitted it and it was published to great acclaim. What does that say about publishing? And about readers? Are we willing, as readers, to accept faults in memoir – because it was “true” and therefore requires less a suspension of disbelief – than in fiction, which must create a more coherent universe? That’s a whole other can of worms!

  9. Archie – I’m so impressed! I can barely spell my name at 5.30 am. I do agree with you, as well. It’s fascinating to watch those eye-witness reconstructions when it’s revealed how terrible we are at recording detail, or even knowing what we’re seeing at all. It’s only because experience seems to leave such a big imprint that we’re so convinced we have a handle on it. And then what happens in the interaction between story and reader is anyone’s guess. So asking for factual truth (in a consistent, evidential way) as opposed to artistic truth, may be missing the point.

    Emily, I wholeheartedly agree – shield the innocent, stay as true as possible to the memory, indicate the fallibility of that memory and the whole messy business of putting flesh and blood experience into words. I haven’t read that disclaimer but I certainly will now.

    Harvestbird – hello and I’m delighted you decided to join in! I think you make a very strong point. I’m intrigued myself as to what should provoke such a big emotional reaction on the part of those students (and I’m trying not to be cynical and suspect that a room full of journalists simply smelled a good story) and I think that the active choice of a certain genre may well account for it. Like choosing dark chocolate only to find you’ve been sold milk. I, too, think that the representation in personal narrative is precisely that of a personal, inner world, and heaven only knows they so rarely correspond neatly to the external one. And you are quite right to indicate that a better class of reader turns up on this site than in the average bookstore😉

    Stefanie – no surprise really that we agree so completely! I could insert that paragraph into my post (or replace one of the more verbose ones with it!). And oh yes, I have a deep desire to blame reality tv too, which of course is so highly edited that it has very little to do with reality….

    Querulous Squirrel – yay! another Colette fan! Always delighted to exchange a thought or two with them🙂 I used to teach literary and jouralistic accounts of date rape when I ran a feminism seminar to indicate how the most intimate and exteme circumstances could be represented with such radical difference. I despair at the way writers are obliged to distort their own writing to fit into the ‘correct’ marketing categories – it happens right across the industry as far as I can tell. I did laugh at the dull memoir story – I can just imagine. And I’ve ordered a copy of Fierce Attachments, too (amazon uk marketplace sellers are offering them for a penny plus postage) – I just had to see what the fuss was about! Good luck with your writing – let me know how it goes.

    Verbivore – as ever I love what you put and admire your nuanced intelligence. I think the issue here revolves around that little word ‘invention’. I agree that James Frey crosses a line and produces something that isn’t wholly acceptable. But how possible is it to truly distinguish between invention and memory? The two are bound together in the form of ‘narrative memory’ which is the normal, healthy way we recall events and is highly flexible. There has to be a dividing line, I guess, between the usual distortions of recall and the intentional submission of fantasy as fact, but it is so hard to draw. Still, just because memory has a fictional component we can’t give up on the distinction between fact and fantasy – we may just have to think about it differently.

  10. I don’t understand the passion people bring to this issue — well, I mean the passion people bring to argue that memoir must be strictly truthful. Telling authors what to do strikes me as absurd (unless we’re talking about journalism or academic writing — I agree with your analysis of both those examples). Art is all about challenging boundaries and expectations and people who do so often produce interesting work. Trying to police the line between fiction and nonfiction, art and life, seems impossible. I’ve been meaning to read Gornick for ages, and now I really will have to!

  11. Thank you for such a sensitive and intelligent post, Litlove. “The story has to be told in a way that it can be heard, otherwise we cannot tell it at all.” In this line you have nailed the crux of the whole matter.

  12. I want art, too. I want the three different versions of the same happening. It’s perspective, really, not differences. Not fault. Not lies. Overall, if I write it and do the best I can with memory and weaving some “art” into it, I’ll just leave the word memoir off it.

    Then if someone asks “is this a memoir?” or “Is this true?” then I will answer something like “yes, mostly.” Or, whatever.

    As with so many things, it’s the label (“memoir”) that gets us.

  13. “But how possible is it to truly distinguish between invention and memory?” This is the question, I suppose, and different readers will have different boundaries where they draw the line…you gave a great example of creating a character amalgam out of several real people for the purposes of story, which I think is something that occurs all the time, so is direct quotes when we all know there is no way we can remember what people said to us so perfectly. My passion for fiction writing means I look at technique and how technique works – I’m sure this perspective is what makes me so interested in understanding the differences in the various mediums. Ultimately, I do agree that what is created – the work of art, the eventual “story” that is told – and how it effects me is all that matters.

  14. Dorothy – I would love to know what you think about Gornick. I’m looking forward to reading George Saunders to see how he puts the personal into the political too. Well, we agree, so no surprises there, and it is lovely to have you back! Tai – what a very kind thing to say! Thank you so much – I’ll treasure that comment. Archie – you have mentioned The Prophet before and I know we have a copy in the house. I really must read it! Oh – how right you are. I’m uneasy with the sense that we need to have strict definitions for genre (and doubt that we’ll ever manage it) but I can also see the advantages of discussing reader’s expectations for them, if only to loosen the stranglehold a bit! Verbivore – yes, perhaps it just is up to the reader to recognise the limits they are comfortable with. I’m equally fascinated with the way that stories get put together – it IS endlessly intriguing, isn’t it?

  15. I can’t imagine how a biographer or a memoirist (writing about memories from a period much earlier in their life) could write an entirely straightforward work. I think the basic facts need to be as correct as they can be, but if the author is looking at letters or diaries–we still might not be getting the whole truth. I expect when I am reading a biography that there is going to be some element of fiction in it as well–something that makes it interesting and not just dry facts. I can barely remember what happened last week let alone conversations from ten or twenty years ago! And it amazes me when I read a memoir or bio that has these. Interesting post Litlove and interesting to think about a reader’s responsibility too. Did you read Margaret Forster’s Diary of an Ordinary Woman? It was fiction, but she sort of presented it initially as a factual diary. Of course at the end she wrote about how the woman she wanted to write about pulled out at the last minute, but she liked the idea so much that she wrote a novel. I knew it ahead of time, but I know there were people upset when they found out–disappointed it wasn’t truthful. I wonder what I would have felt had I not known.

  16. Litlove,

    A fascinating topic. I loved the following idea, which I’ve put at the top of The Thought Shapers (my book on Authonomy) – ‘A story can be true, but not have truth. A story can have truth but not be true.’ I believe that everything is fictionalised to a greater or lesser extent – as you say, the minute something is past we all put our own spin on it, even if only when privately remembering it. When it comes to writing a memoir, a blog even, how much more selective must we be? From a ‘true story’ nothing might touch the truths in our own lives (which are only our own constructs after all…) whereas a novel might make us reflect on many ‘truths’ selected from our own memories/experiences.

    Tricia.

    PS Where did your book disappear to? I miss seeing it on my bookshelf!

  17. Danielle – what an interesting comment! I haven’t read the Margaret Forster although I’ve read a fair bit of her non-fiction. I could see how easy it would be to assume she was writing a factual account and then be astonished to be informed differently. I do have the book, so I will have to pick it up. I don’t like biographies when it’s all dates and who did what, where and at what time. I like a bit of analysis and a bit of dialogue (however creatively remembered). It makes non-fiction go with some panache!

    Tricia – what a fantastic quote that is! I agree wholeheartedly with you. All forms of writing involve the author in creativity, in matching language to experience and there’s inevitably a big gap between the two. Fiction is in everything we recall and even inhabits our perceptions, too, in the form of expectations. I guess the point is that fiction as you say is a good thing – it has truthm, even if it doesn’t always tell it.

    Oh me and authonomy! I removed the book entirely to do some big editing work, and put 16,000 words of a different book about the importance of stories (coincidentally) in our lives up instead. But then those rankings came in and I didn’t like them at all and the thought of all the self-publicity I’d have to do all over again made me take myself off the site. But I’m rooting for The Thought Shapers and if I can still comment on the forums I’ll post a recommendation of it there. I think it’s a much better book than anything in the top five…..

  18. Oh bother – I was away and missed your writings on the importance of stories. I don’t want to put up my email address here – but is there any way of me reading it? I think you can find my email on Youwriteon – same username as Authonomy if you want to. I’d love to read it.
    Thanks so much for your kind comments on my book. Having you back it has meant so much to me. I just wish I could make my writing live up to my theme, and ideas. Perhaps I could if I had more time, and did less of this!!
    Now there’s another subject for you to take on. Time…

  19. Of course many memiors have parts that are contrived. I don’t know that that really matters though. I don’t think I would do it. I think it’s the over all message and connection with the reader that matters in the end. There’s no way to do this without exposing oneself though. I think the crappy memiors are the ones where the writer is closed up, covers things, is trying to hide in a sense.

  20. How awful that the Rosenblats lied about their story and that the publishers and movie makers fell for it. Boy in the Striped Pajamas, which was a great book and now movie, never pretended to be true. The Rosenblats, like Madoff, are harming the good Jewish name and it’s terrible.

    I read a New York Times article about Stan Lee and Neal Adams the comic book artists supporting another TRUE Holocaust love story. There was a beautiful young artist, Dina Gottliebova Babbitt, who painted Snow White and the Seven Dwarves on the children’s barracks at Auschwitz to cheer them up. Dina’s art became the reason she and her Mother survived Auschwitz.

    Painting the mural for the children caused Dina to be taken in front of Dr. Mengele, the Angel of Death. She thought she was going to be gassed, but bravely she stood up to Mengele and he decided to make her his portrait painter, saving herself and her mother from the gas chamber as long as she was doing painting for him.

    Dina’s story is true because some of the paintings she did for Mengele in Auschwitz survived the war and are at the Auschwitz Birkenau Museum. Also, the story of her painting the mural of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs on the children’s barrack has been corroborated by many other Auschwitz prisoners, and of course her love and marriage to the animator of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs the Disney movie after the war in Paris is also a fact.

    I wish Oprah would do a story about Dina and her art not about the Rosenblats who were pulling the wool over all our eyes.

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