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Melancholy and Modernity: Dovid Bergelson’s Nokh Alemen

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This article provides an analysis of the modernist qualities inherent in Dovid Bergelson’s first novel, Nokh alemen, which is read as an account of the difficult transition from tradition to modernity. This transition is described as painful, promising and impossible. The objective will be the investigation of this inability to enter into modernity, an inability that shall be viewed as a manifestation of a deeper structural inhibition that can be understood and analysed by reference to melancholia. Enlisting psychoanalytic as well as literary theoretical concepts, melancholia shall be read less as a phase that the protagonist is somehow going through and more as a fundamental psychic condition, permeating the novel as a whole. Taking into account the pervasive phenomenon of the struggle of tradition and modernity, Bergelson’s creative production, voicing and commenting on a “historic melancholia,” is not only about melancholia in its mimetic representations but also in its intellectual and historical Sitz im Leben.

Affiliations: 1: Universität Konstanz


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