UCL Discovery
UCL home » Library Services » Electronic resources » UCL Discovery

Between concealment and revelation: Mystical motifs in selected Yiddish works of Isaac Bashevis Singer and their sources in Kabbalistic literature

Wiegand, Haike Beruriah; (2003) Between concealment and revelation: Mystical motifs in selected Yiddish works of Isaac Bashevis Singer and their sources in Kabbalistic literature. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

[thumbnail of out.pdf] Text
out.pdf

Download (11MB)

Abstract

The subject of this study is an exploration of Jewish mystical motifs in the works of Yitskhok Bashevis Zinger (Isaac Bashevis Singer). The study is based on a close reading of the Yiddish original of all of Bashevis's works investigated here. Changes or omissions in the English translations are mentioned and commented upon, wherever it is appropriate. This study consists of three major parts, apart from an introduction (Chapter 1) and a conclusion (Chapter 9). The first major part (Chapter 2) investigates the kabbalistic and hasidic influences on Bashevis's life and the sources which inform the mystical aspects of his works. This part explores Bashevis's family background, the conflicting influences of mysticism and rationalism on the author during his childhood in Warsaw, and the significance of Bilgoraj for Bashevis's writings. Furthermore it investigates the sources, informing Bashevis's treatment of Jewish mysticism and mystical messianism. The second part (Chapter 3) provides a thematic overview of Jewish mystical concepts and motifs employed in Bashevis's works and explains the theoretical background of these mystical ideas. The themes investigated after a brief introduction (Chapter 3.1) are: Jewish mysticism and magic (Chapter 3.2); creation and language, the central idea of [Hebrew characters] (Sefer Yezirah) and its implications for Bashevis's writings (Chapter 3.3); the doctrine of creation in Lurianic Kabbalah and its interpretations in Bashevis's works (Chapter 3.4); and the interpretation of Lurianic concepts in Shabbateanism, as it is depicted by Bashevis (Chapter 3.5). The third part is an investigation of Jewish mystical motifs in selected works by Bashevis. Four of his major novels are discussed in detail. These are: Satan in Goray - (Chapter 4); The Family Moskat - (Chapter 5); The Magician of Lublin - (Chapter 6); and The Slave - (Chapter 7). A further chapter indicates the use of mystical references and motifs in Bashevis's short fiction (Chapter 8). Bashevis's works vacillate between two extreme experiences of the Divine by his various characters, the experience of concealment and mystery on one hand, closely connected to the Lurianic idea of Zimzum, and the experience of revelation in creation on the other hand. On a different level these two extreme experiences of concealment and revelation also apply to the artist or writer in relation to his or her literary creation. In Bashevis's literary creation there are countless references to Jewish mystical ideas, some of them obvious and overt, others more concealed. This study endeavours to elucidate these mystical references, images and allusions, their origins in kabbalistic doctrines and the role they play in Bashevis's works.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: Between concealment and revelation: Mystical motifs in selected Yiddish works of Isaac Bashevis Singer and their sources in Kabbalistic literature
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Thesis digitised by ProQuest.
Keywords: Language, literature and linguistics; Social sciences; Jewish literature; Singer, Isaac Bashevis
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10106295
Downloads since deposit
353Downloads
Download activity - last month
Download activity - last 12 months
Downloads by country - last 12 months

Archive Staff Only

View Item View Item