New Faculty Publication

Professor Nathalie Debrauwere-Miller, Department of French & Italian

Title: Envisager Dieu avec Edmond Jabès par Nathalie Debrauwere-Miller. Paris, Collection Cerf Littérature, 2007.

English Abstract from the publisher–

“Will my work [… ] be contained in the countless and contradictory definitions of God and my solitude, in the death of that word?’ This question is the anchor point of a long meditation on the writing of Edmond Jabès, because it raises all the mystery of a fragmentary work from which emerge multiple contradictions of the term ‘God’; and because from the presumed death of this concept, the poet’s solitude and anguish of dereliction supposedly ensue. The challenge is announced: to help God escape from the maze of that question, because he is the ultimate interrogation, now in the form of a book. A God posed at the confluence of the Western modernity that proclaimed his death (Heine, Nietzsche, Mallarmé and Camus…), and Jewish traditions that bear witness with antinomical concepts of his survival (the Talmud, the Zohar and the philosophy de Levinas).

From the diverse modalities of the word ‘God’, two paradoxical writings of the figuration and de-figuration of the divine come to light, revealing an internal conflict in the work and in Judaism.

But, isn’t that de-figuration an attempt to abolish the divine ‘figure’ in as much as it demands ‘the prohibition of representation’? Or the post-Shoah symptom of a resentment against God’s absence? Does the antagonistic yet ethical relation Jabès maintains with the divine foment his subversion of Judaism?

A poet of displacement and a Jew, Edmond Jabès constantly questions God, the origin of man, the history and the roots of Evil. ‘To consider God’, is to consider one of the divine entity’s many ‘faces’ being contemplated by Jabès: ‘All the faces are His; which is why he has no face.’ ‘To consider God’ also means tracking the invention of an unusual Genesis, revealed by successive books. But, might we not find that reviving and commenting the founding myths of God and humanity give another meaning to the work of Edmond Jabès?”

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