"I Will Remain Silence and Scream": Edmond Jabès and the Wound and Witness of Language

Ploeg, Andrew J.
January 2012
Shofar: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Jewish Studies;Winter2012, Vol. 30 Issue 2, p91
Academic Journal
Literary Criticism
This essay argues that Edmond Jabès's The Book of Questions, Volume I radically questions the presumably inherent authority of the witness in distinct yet interconnected ways. Heavily influenced by Derridian deconstruction, his text challenges conventional assumptions involving the witness, particularly the implied extra-textuality of horrific events (such as the Holocaust) and of those who provide testimony to them. Jabès's unique rethinking of the witness is made even more legible through the productive parallel he draws between the Jew and the writer. This parallel, for the author, is a reflection of the inescapable status of both as witnesses to the originary wound of language. Further, Jabès complicates the authority of the witness through his insertion of a rabbinical commentary throughout his text, a framework that fundamentally blurs distinctions between testimony and its interpretation.


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