Permanent Beginning, A: R. Nachman of Braslav and Jewish Literary Modernity

Permanent Beginning, A: R. Nachman of Braslav and Jewish Literary Modernity

by Yitzhak Lewis

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Overview

Situates a Hasidic master in the context of his time, demonstrating his formative influence on Jewish literary modernity.

The Hasidic leader R. Nachman of Braslav (1772–1810) has held a place in the Jewish popular imagination for more than two centuries. Some see him as the (self-proclaimed) Messiah, others as the forerunner of modern Jewish literature. Existing studies struggle between these dueling readings, largely ignoring questions of aesthetics and politics in his work. A Permanent Beginning lays out a new paradigm for understanding R. Nachman’s thought and writing, and, with them, the beginnings of Jewish literary modernity. Yitzhak Lewis examines the connections between imperial modernization processes in Eastern Europe at the turn of the eighteenth century and the emergence of “modern literature” in the storytelling of R. Nachman. Reading his tales and teachings alongside the social, legal, and intellectual history of the time, the book’s guiding question is literary: How does R. Nachman represent this changing environment in his writing? Lewis paints a nuanced and fascinating portrait of a literary thinker and creative genius at the very moment his world was evolving unrecognizably. He argues compellingly that R. Nachman’s narrative response to his changing world was a major point of departure for Jewish literary modernity.

Yitzhak Lewis is Assistant Professor of Humanities at Duke Kunshan University, China.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781438477688
Publisher: State University of New York Press
Publication date: 03/01/2020
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 242
File size: 2 MB

About the Author

Yitzhak Lewis is Assistant Professor of Humanities at Duke Kunshan University, China.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments

Introduction: What is Jewish Literary Modernity?

Part I. Political-Aesthetic Questions

1. Positioning R. Nachman

2. Representing Difference

3. The Secret of Our Wisdom

Part II. Questions of Social and Intellectual History

4. Was R. Nachman an Innovation Such as the World Had Never Seen?

5: Was R. Nachman a “Jewish Intellectual”?

Part III. Literary Questions

6: Was R. Nachman the Messiah?

7: Poetics of Intransitivity

Conclusion: Reading outside Modernity

Notes
Bibliography
Index

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