Tal Hever-Chybowski is the director of the Paris Yiddish Center – Medem Library, the largest center for Yiddish language and literature in Europe. His native language, however, is Hebrew, which is the focus of journal he has founded, Mikan Ve’eylakh (“From Now On/From Here On”). The journal’s novelty rests in its treatment of Hebrew not as the exclusive property of the State of Israel, but as a Diasporic language in its own right. Mikan Ve’eylakh’s two issues feature articles, short stories and poems by Hebrew writers living in the Diaspora. Macha Fogel, K.’s Yiddishland correspondent, recently met up with Hever-Chybowski to discuss his project.
Starting this week, K. is publishing in several installments a long interview with Daniel Mendelsohn. The great American writer, who became famous with The Lost, is the author of a rich body of work in which various traditions (classical, Jewish and American traditions, among others) intersect and the art of storytelling fuses with scholarly analysis. Déborah Bucchi and Adrien Zirah, who conducted the interview, examine some of the most singular and ambitious elements of Mendelsohn’s oeuvre in this introduction. Bucchi and Zirah situate his work at the crossroads between auto-fiction and mythic dialogue.
What happened that caused the newspaper published by the Zentralrat der Juden in Deutschland, the Central Council of Jews in Germany, to demand that the Minister of Culture resign? The presence of a blatantly anti-Semitic painting in the world’s largest contemporary art exhibition – the documenta, which has been held every five years since 1955 in the city of Cassel. It was due to the presence of the painting but also the result of a long debate before the fact about the anti-Semitic character of the 2022 edition of documenta, on which the minister did not want to take position in the name of freedom of art. Julia Christ reports on the crazy sequence of discussions and false humility consequent to the appearance of this work.
Daniella Pinkstein brings together significant Jewish figures of writing and representation who once crossed paths in Warsaw and Paris — notably around the two issues of the magazine Khaliastra. Between references and excerpts from the works of Kafka, Chagall, Markish and Greenberg, she pays homage to the davar that held them together, that “dislocated thing that joins, undulating and impatient, the word.” In this in-between period when Jewish artists were at the forefront of modernity, she describes a condition where “responsibility is not acquired, not learned, it is transmitted, in this inhabited language, which places the individual in front of its duplicate.”
The exhibition conceived by curator Isabelle Cahn and designed by Joris Lipsch at the mahJ in Paris – ‘Proust du côté de la mère’ — collects the mementos of Proust’s Jewish condition. It also solicits a plastic reflection on the modern Jews’ sense of art and its history, on the museum institution itself, on the power of the image and its effect on the gaze as well as on thought — so many themes, incessantly worked on in ‘The Search for Lost Time’, on which Avishag Zafrani returns for K.
Yehoshua died on Tuesday, June 14, at the age of 85. We feel that we are nearing the end of an era. The one of Aharon Appelfeld (1932-2018), Amos Oz (1938-2018) and A.B. Yehoshua (1936-2022), who embodied a generation of Israeli literature. They were not only great writers. This generation also represented the moral conscience of a nation that they saw come to birth.
Last May, Gallimard published Guerre, the first of Céline’s unpublished manuscripts, missing since the end of the war and now available again after a rocky history that is still largely undisclosed. A specialist of Louis-Ferdinand Céline, Philippe Roussin comes back to K. on the project of editing Céline’s lost manuscripts, a problematic work but whose goal is elsewhere. For in the end, it is always Céline’s status as a literary legend that is at stake, at the cost of an enterprise of erasure and rewriting aimed at reintegrating the author into the national pantheon and turning him into a cash machine.
The enfant terrible of post-war international Jewish philosophy is probably the best way to describe Jacob Taubes. Admired and sought after by all his contemporaries, Taubes embodies a figure that is repeated in the history of thought: that of the genius without work. But Taubes does not exactly fit this image. For throughout his life, rather than a work, the genius left… a mixed impression. Scholem even hid in obscure corners when he was likely to come across him by chance, while others, not least, were eager to get to know him, even to support him. It is of this strange Mr. Taubes that Jerry Z. Muller has just written a major biography:’ Professor of Apocalypse. The many lives of Jacob Taubes’. For K. Mitchell Abidor offers a review that plunges us into the wild life of a character oscillating between Shlemiel and false messiah.
After Amalia, Joel Whitebook introduces us to Freud’s second mother: the Catholic nanny who took care of him during the first years of his life and gave him the emotional support he lacked. In retrospect, it is also to this childhood acquaintance that Freud will trace his discovery of sexuality. From one mother to the other, these two portraits powerfully illuminate the problematic place that Freud gave to women in the science of psychoanalysis; and the elucidation that it calls for today by passing the life of the man Freud through the sieve of his own theory.
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