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A Foreigner Carrying in the Crook of His Arm a Tiny Book [Paperback]

Edmond Jabès

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Book Description

Feb. 10 2000
literature/Jewish Studies, tr Rosmarie Waldrop

Product Details

  • Paperback: 115 pages
  • Publisher: University Press Of New England (Feb. 10 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0819562661
  • ISBN-13: 978-0819562661
  • Product Dimensions: 21.3 x 14 x 1 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 227 g

Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

In this illuminating philosophical book, Jabes, who died in 1991 and lived in France after being forced to leave Egypt with other native-born Jews during the Suez War, ruminates on the link between being Jewish and being mislabeled as a foreigner. It is also an indictment of bigotry. Jabes writes, "the basic racist is the man who refuses himself as he is. . . . The antisemite can never forgive the Jews for being capable of self-realization. . . ." Elsewhere he observes in verse on his own experience of exile: "I left a land not mine / for another, not mine either. / I took refuge in a word of ink with the book for space, / word from nowhere, obscure word of the desert." His seamless style brings to mind both religious and French existential writings, although some musings reach heights too abstract to follow: "We must from now on grant citizen's rights to the foreigner's new name: the foreign I . / Foreign Me, foreign You designated by the I." Here, too, Jabes ( The Book of Questions ) evokes powerful images of the desert to underscore a mood of isolation and comments wisely about aging and power.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Jabes's last book is a response to the increasing racism in France that he witnessed before his death in 1991. The author, himself a foreigner who was exiled from Egypt after the Suez crisis in 1956, identifies with the "wandering Jew." Jabes attests that the writer is the most foreign of the foreign and takes refuge in the book, which can never deport him. But any book is inevitably doomed to failure because it emulates a mythic, unattainable book. Jabes establishes a dialog between several interlocutors who pose unanswerable questions about life and its meaning. Readers unfamiliar with Jabes's style (e.g., The Book of Resemblances , Vol. 2, LJ 6/1/91) will not enjoy this book; however, knowledgeable readers will relish Jabes's new ways of writing poetry and his insights on existence and meaning. Waldrop's translation is readable and natural. Recommended for scholars, poets, and Jabes fans.
- Bob Ivey, Memphis State Univ., Tenn.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars subversive and suspicious April 20 2003
By Doug Anderson - Published on Amazon.com
This is not a narrative but a series of aphorisms which occasionally grow into more precise prose meditations. Aphorisms however sometimes sound like clever twists of logic which prove nothing but verbal dexterity though and that is one problem with Jabes work. But that weakness is also sometimes a strength as Jabes makes use of the malleability inherent in language to stress the malleability in individual identity which is his main theme in this, his last, book. The book is a meditation on what it means to be a foreigner. For Jabes who was forced out of his homeland Egypt in 1956 because he was a Jew and who lived in exile until his death in 1991 being a foreigner was something with which he was well acquainted. Through all of his aphorisms and twists of logic Jabes seeks a higher truth whereby contact with the foreigner or "other" leads to greater self-knowledge which in turn leads to the knowledge that we are all one and the same separated only by the biases of the age in which we live. The language is distinctly existential but the content is humanist.

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