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How Strange the ChangeLanguage, Temporality, and Narrative Form in Peripheral Modernisms$
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Marc Caplan

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780804774765

Published to Stanford Scholarship Online: June 2013

DOI: 10.11126/stanford/9780804774765.001.0001

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Introduction: Apples and Oranges

Introduction: Apples and Oranges

On Comparing Yiddish and African Literatures

(p.1) Introduction: Apples and Oranges
How Strange the Change
Stanford University Press

This book explores the paradoxical centrality of peripheral literatures to a theory of global modernism, taking the “minor” literary theory of Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari as a point of departure. It compares Yiddish literature produced during the nineteenth century and African literature written in English and French in the mid-twentieth-century. The book considers two pioneering figures in these respective cultures, Amos Tutuola and Reb Nakhman of Breslov. In particular, it compares the “Complete Gentleman” episode from Tutuola's first novel The Palm-Wine Drinkard with Nakhman's first story “The Story of a Lost Princess.” It then turns to the first consciously modern ideologies in Jewish Eastern Europe and Francophone Africa, haskole (the “Jewish Enlightenment”) and negritude. It also offers readings of novels by Sholem Yankev Abramovitsh (Mendele Moykher-Sforim), Cheikh Hamidou Kane, Wole Soyinka, and Ahmadou Kourouma. The book concludes by considering Jewish literature after the Holocaust.

Keywords:   Jewish literature, modernism, Yiddish literature, African literature, Amos Tutuola, Reb Nakhman, haskole, negritude, Gilles Deleuze, Félix Guattari

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