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Apocalyptic Messianism and Contemporary JewishAmerican Poetry

R. Barbara Gitenstein

Publication Year: 1986

Focusing on the rich context of esoteric Jerish literature, this collection presents indepth analyses of JewishAmerican poetry. Gitenstein defines Jewish messianism and the literary genre of the apocalyptic, describes historical movements and kabbalistic theories, and analyzes their influence as part of the postHolocaust consciousness. Represented are works by such poets as Irving Feldman, Jack Hirschman, John Hollander, David Meltzer, and Jerome Rothenberg.

Published by: State University of New York Press

Series: SUNY series in Modern Jewish Literature and Culture

Front Matter

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pp. ix-xi

Apocalyptic Messianism and Contemporary Jewish-American Poetry is an analysis of how an overlooked Jewish tradition has influenced an overlooked literary genre: apocalyptic messianism is overlooked by rabbinic authority and Jewish-American poetry by literary critics. I have chosen to discuss the apocalyptic messianic influence...

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pp. xiii-xiv

l owe a debt of gratitude to a great number of people and several institutions. I would like to thank the staff and administration of the Ward Edwards Library of Central Missouri State University where I conducted most of my research. Everyone there was helpful, but a few names must be singled out: Patricia Downing...

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pp. 1-10

A quirk of Jewish-American literary criticism is that it is almost exclusively about prose fiction. Since poetry is a major genre in all Jewish diaspora literatures and since Jewish-American literature has a history of approximately one hundred years, the absence of poets in the tradition would at least be worth noting. But...

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Chapter 1. Definitions And Historic Contexts

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pp. 11-36

Kabbalah has been a fertile subterrean influence on Jewish life since the beginning of the Jewish people. The term itself is associated with the medieval flowering of that esoteric culture, but the idea in its broadest sense, that is simply mystical tradition, has been present in almost all Jewish existence. My analysis of...

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Chapter 2. Apocalyptic Historiography And The Messianic Hopeful

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pp. 37-55

The apocalyptic historiography of the poetry discussed in this book must be placed within the context of the work of some of the most creative historians of the modern period. This theory of history depends on a contemporary interpretation of the Holocaust. For instance, the literary critic, theologian, and historian, Walter...

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Chapter 3. Allegory And The Messianic Story

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pp. 57-81

The literal influence of apocalyptic messianism on Jewish-American poetry, as described in the previous chapter, often appears as a specific reference to a particular messianic aspirant or to a particular characteristic of that messianic aspirant. However, the more abstract influences of the apocalyptic on contemporary poetry...

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Chapter 4. The Messianic Ontology

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pp. 83-108

The most abstract symbolic constructs found in contemporary Jewish-American literature influenced by apocalyptic messianism follow two kabbalistic patterns. First, the kabbalistic, especially Lurianic, emanation theory strove to explain how and why things were the way they were in the exile. The Lurianic...

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pp. 109-111

Perhaps we can best understand the apocalyptic influence on contemporary Jewish-American poetry if we place that poetry within another broad context: the gradual confrontation of the Holocaust by American Jews. This confrontation is quite a recent phenomenon. Literary and social historians have identified two...


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pp. 113-124


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pp. 125-131


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pp. 133-137

E-ISBN-13: 9781438404158
E-ISBN-10: 1438404158
Print-ISBN-13: 9780887061547
Print-ISBN-10: 0887061540

Page Count: 128
Publication Year: 1986

Series Title: SUNY series in Modern Jewish Literature and Culture