Abstract

Abstract:

In 1945, the writer S. Y Agnon published his magnum opus—the Hebrew novel Temol shilshom (Only Yesterday). The novel follows the life of Second Aliyah immigrant Yitshak Kumer, who eventually dies after being bitten by a rabid dog. Informed by the growing field of the medical humanities, the present article reexamines the aesthetic significance of this canine figure. I begin by tracing the medico-cultural history of rabies, its etiology and symbols, and its relationship to melancholia. I then analyze the variety of melancholic symptoms and cultural-historical signifiers that are woven into the novel. Finally, I conclude by drawing on Sigmund Freud's "Mourning and Melancholia" in order to investigate the intersection of melancholia, rabies, and style in Agnon's text. Rabies and melancholia, as will become clear, are not only conditions thematized by Temol shilshom. They are also the stylistic ciphers of the text.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1527-2028
Print ISSN
0021-6704
Pages
pp. 1-25
Launched on MUSE
2019-06-15
Open Access
No
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