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Studies in Contemporary Jewry: XII: Literary Strategies: Jewish Texts and Contexts$
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Ezra Mendelsohn

Print publication date: 1997

Print ISBN-13: 9780195112030

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195112030.001.0001

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Between Memory and Forgetfulness: The Janus Face of Michah Yosef Berdichevsky

Between Memory and Forgetfulness: The Janus Face of Michah Yosef Berdichevsky

Chapter:
(p.78) Between Memory and Forgetfulness: The Janus Face of Michah Yosef Berdichevsky
Source:
Studies in Contemporary Jewry: XII: Literary Strategies: Jewish Texts and Contexts
Author(s):

Ezra Mendelsohn

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195112030.003.0005

This chapter examines the literary writings of Michah Yosef Berdichevsky dealing with memory and forgetfulness. Berdichevsky's ocuvre presented here appears to be generated by a nucleus of paradoxes or polarities—“binary oppositions” in latter-day structuralese—that manifest themselves in the very earliest strata of his writings, and to which is constantly driven back in a quasi-Nietzschean pattern of “eternal return”: the individual versus the collective; Jews versus Judaism; fragmentation versus wholeness; intellect versus instinct. It is argued that each of these paradoxes may be viewed from the aspect of the primary paradox of memory versus forgetfulness, the impossible dual imperative: “Remember, do not remember” that lay upon Berdichevsky from the onset as a curse, albeit one that would spur him to extraordinary creativity.

Keywords:   Michah Yosef Berdichevsky, memory, forgetfulness, paradoxes, binary oppositions, quasi-Nietzschean pattern

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