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4 Enacting Canonicity: Parageses in the Anatomy of Angels

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Chapter Summary

This chapter discusses issues as to how canon and the canonical are conceived and deployed as a way of controlling the semiotic influx of reading Genesis. 32:22-32. It explores how the Jabbok scene is made hospitable to retelling and reciting through its multiple canonicities, using short poems by Alden Nowlan, Yehuda Amichai, and Jamie Wasserman. The chapter highlights how Robert Alter's analysis of the double-canonicity of biblical material, Nowlan's poem is both hosted by the Genesis text, in that the poem is more meaningful in relation to the biblical material than without, and that, as guest, it brings with it, within its paragetical body, extra-canonical meanings and allusions. As with Nowlan's poem 'The Anatomy of Angels', Jacob's nocturnal struggle is refigured as an erotic encounter. In the poem itself, the characters are not named but the title 'Jacob and the Angel' provides the suggestive frame for the whole piece.

Keywords: Alden Nowlan's angel; biblical material; Genesis; Jacob's nocturnal struggle; Jamie Wasserman; paragetical poems; Robert Alter's analysis; Yehuda Amichai



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