Tradition and Fantasy in the Tales of Reb Nahman of Bratslav

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Considers the tales of Reb Nahman of Bratslav within a broad cultural milieu, including the romanticism of Reb Nahman's time, contemporary feminist hermeneutics, and the fantastic in various contexts.
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Editorial Reviews

Argues that the 13 stories of Reb Nahman (1772-1810), the founder of the Bratslav Hasidic movement, are at once deeply rooted in the moral traditions of Judaism and excellent examples of modern fantasy writing. Applying critical literary analysis to the tales, the author examines such issues as: mythopoeia, metamorphosis, and the interface between what is called "reality" and other dimensions; Nahman's spiritual and cultural contexts; the central role of narrative in his teaching; the notion of text as symbolic representation, and the impact of Western European Romantic thinkers on Nahman's oeuvre. Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, Or.
From the Publisher
A work of impeccable scholarship and impressive scope, it builds on all available primary and secondary sources in Hebrew, English, and German about this most protean of religious and imaginative thinkers. There is no other work in any language on Reb Nahman's Tales as thorough, comprehensive, and original as this, and it is fair to say that all subsequent works will be measured against this one. Wiskind-Elper has delivered on both the 'tradition' and 'fantasy' side of her title, which is to say, she has situated Reb Nahman's symbolism, theology, plots, motifs, and style within the huge corpus of Jewish sacred narrative, while at the same time providing a rigorous literary analysis of these tales as exemplars of fantasy literature. In a bold stroke, she has redefined the genre of fantasy literature in terms of Reb Nahman's Tales. Thus, without soft-peddling the otherness of Reb Nahman's religious imagination, she has made it accessible to intelligent readers of any modern persuasion.— David G. Roskies, author of A Bridge of Longing: The Lost Art of Yiddish Storytelling
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Product Details

Meet the Author

Ora Wiskind-Elper teaches at Michlalah Jerusalem College and at Matan–Women’s Institute for Torah Studies.

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Table of Contents



I. The Poet's Self and the Poem

1. The Figure of the Zaddik
2. Innovation and Inspiration: Linking Past to Future
3. The Approaching Redemption
4. Autobiographical Aspects

II. Telling Tales; or, The Physics and Metaphysics of Fiction

1. The Sanctification of Fiction in Hasidic Tradition
2. Adoption of Narrative Elements from Other Genres

Rabbinic Literature

3. The Torah as Text and Archetype
4. Multifarious "Texts" and Their Symbolic Value

III. The Romantic Drama

1. Romanticism: A General Definition
2. The Romantic Quest
3. The Indwelling Life of Nature

The Garden

4. In God's Image He Created Her

Metaphors of Motherhood
The Shekhinah: From Mourning to Joy

IV. The Dimension of the Fantastic

1. A Characterization of the Fantastic World

The Mythical Worm and its Evolution
Mythopoetic Archetypes
Between Past and Future: Nostalgia and Expectation
A Definition of the Fantastic as a Literary Genre

2. Perception and Deception: Transmutations of Reality within the Tale

The Dream Paradigm
The Tale Entitled The King's Decree
The Dream of t he Circle in Hayyei Moharan
The Tale Entitled The Lost Princess and the Song of Songs
The Tale Entitled Fly and Spider

3. Blurring of Boundaries, Shifting Identities

Theological Implications: The Kushiya

4. Metamorphosis of Imagery

The Tale of Heart and Spring

5. The Effect of the Dimension of the Fantastic on the Listener/Reader



Index of Subjects

Index of Sources

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