Abstract

The academic study of Kabbalah has largely been limited to myth and symbol as the two viable forms of kabbalistic discourse. In this essay, I resist those limitations and explore two other possible literary forms: history and fiction. I do not mean history in any positivistic sense but closer to Steven Greenblatt's description of new historicism as cultural poetics. This suggests that literature not only reflects a historical setting but also creates that setting, constructing reality in its own image and directing it toward its desired ends. In looking at Lurianic Kabbalah as fiction, I raise the issue of the "real" and the "true" as it relates to fictive narratives more generally. This essay does not claim that the kabbalists in question did or did not intend to write cultural poetics or fiction. Rather, I use cultural poetics and fiction as possible lenses through which a nontraditional interested reader (i.e., one not invested in the literature as authoritative) can read these texts in a way that can speak to the contemporary world in which we live and think.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1086-3311
Print ISSN
0272-9601
Pages
pp. 362-397
Launched on MUSE
2010-06-17
Open Access
No
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