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Genre and identity in the work of David Grossman.

Levine, T.L.; (2005) Genre and identity in the work of David Grossman. Doctoral thesis , University of London. Green open access

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Abstract

David Grossman is a central figure in Israeli literature. Widely translated, his work has achieved international acclaim for its bold and innovative engagement in the events and mood of the day. In this study, the first monograph on his work in English, I focus on his process of constructing identity through storytelling. Key themes of identity---adolescence and parent-child relationships, sexuality and the body-soul dichotomy---are interwoven into diverse literary genres. My method is to examine the paradigms and significance of Grossman's literary genres, placing them in the context of Israeli and Western literature. I analyse his technique of manipulating traditional structural features of these genres to reveal the ambiguities and changing nature of identity. I show how he acknowledges his literary forefathers by his use of intertext to develop identity. I contend that Grossman's focus on the adolescent protagonist pinpoints a young person's confrontation with his inherited identity. I discuss The Book of Intimate Grammar as zntx-Bildungsroman, illustrating the instability experienced en route to a cogent sense of self and an accommodation with the adult world. Grossman breaks new ground in his seminal work of Holocaust fiction, See under: Love. Moving beyond the sphere of witness accounts and their consequent fiction, he uses a fragmented plot and complex narratives, revealing the impossibility of viewing the Holocaust as a single synchronic story, exposing the damaged identities that remain. In Be My Knife, his more recent epistolary novel, I find a shift in his construction of identity. Rhythms of internal and external languages combine in this exploration of sexuality and parenthood. I suggest that his narrative techniques of multiple voices and indeterminate endings enhance reader involvement. They are a call to share Grossman's enduring commitment to a "wide-hearted humanism". This credo involves creating an ethical identity of self-examination, facilitating the recognition of difference in self and others, as evidenced in his socio-political novel and essays. I highlight Grossman's artistry: his sensitivity to registers of language, expressing sociological aspects of Israeli life in the past decades. Ultimately, for Grossman, both the world and the "I" are but a narrative.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Title: Genre and identity in the work of David Grossman.
Identifier: PQ ETD:592244
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Thesis digitised by ProQuest. Third party copyright material has been removed from the ethesis
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Dept of Hebrew and Jewish Studies
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1444934
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