Wallace Stevens' "dark rabbi", from his poem "Le Monocle de Mon Oncle", provides a title for this collection of essays on the "lordly study" of modern Jewish poetry in English. Including chapters on such poets as Charles Reznikoff, Allen Grossman, Chana Bloch, and Michael Heller, this volume explores the tensions between religious and secular worldviews in recent Jewish poetry, the often conflicted linguistic and cultural matrix from which this poetry arises, and the complicated ways in which Jewish tradition shapes the sensibilities of not only Jewish, but also non-Jewish, poets. Finkelstein, described as "one of American poetry's indispensable makers" (Lawrence Joseph), whose previous critical work has been called "the exemplary study of the religious aspect of the works of contemporary American poets" (Peter O'Leary), considers large literary and cultural trends while never losing sight of the particular formal powers of individual poems. In Like a Dark Rabbi he offers a passionate argument for the importance of Jewish-American poetry to modern Jewish culture-and to American poetry-as it engages with the contradictions of contemporary life.
Wallace Stevens' dark rabbi, from his poem "Le Monocle de Mon Oncle", provides a title for this work on modern Jewish poetry in English. Norman Finkelstein here offers a passionate argument for the importance of Jewish-American poetry to modern Jewish culture-and to American poetry.
Preface 1. Introduction: Two Shapiros: Thoughts On Poetry and Secular Jewish Culture 2. Ghosts of Yiddish; or, Postvernacularity in Jewish American Poetry 3. Charles Reznikoff: Modernism, Diaspora, and the Problem of Jewish Identity 4. Allen Grossman and the Poetry of Holiness 5. Michael Heller: Between the Sacred and the Profane 6. Chana Bloch: Surfaces and Depths 7. "The darker wisdom of the Jews": Henry Weinfield's Dialectical Irony 8. Rachel Tzvia Back: Between Israel and the Diaspora 9. Dark Rabbis and Secret Jews 10. Afterword: "Diasporas of Imperfection"
Dark Rabbi's richness is the way it contains this multi-dimensional, contradictory, sacred and profane, but always throbbingly alive poetics. It might be likened to a mysterious broad river never content to flow in just one coherent direction. . . . In his scholarly wanderings, Finkelstein has constructed an exemplary crooked bridge across which Jewish culture and Jewish life merge. --Robert Hirschfield, The Canadian Jewish News, January 30, 2020 ...with all the alarming simplifications of religion in the public square, the best thing about Finkelstein's book is that it teases out its deeper meanings, especially, here, in its entanglements with poetry. I enjoyed and learned from this book of essays, and better still, discovered a few poets I'll be following from now on. --Joe Safdie, Dispatches From the Poetry Wars, January 17, 2020
Hebrew Union College Press,U.S.
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