Between Memory and Forgetfulness: The Janus Face of Michah Yosef Berdichevsky

Marcus Moseley*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


This chapter examines the literary writings of Michah Yosef Berdichevsky dealing with memory and forgetfulness. Berdichevsky's ocuvre presented here appears to be generated by a nucleus of paradoxes or polarities-"binary oppositions" in latter-day structuralese-that manifest themselves in the very earliest strata of his writings, and to which is constantly driven back in a quasi-Nietzschean pattern of "eternal return": the individual versus the collective; Jews versus Judaism; fragmentation versus wholeness; intellect versus instinct. It is argued that each of these paradoxes may be viewed from the aspect of the primary paradox of memory versus forgetfulness, the impossible dual imperative: "Remember, do not remember" that lay upon Berdichevsky from the onset as a curse, albeit one that would spur him to extraordinary creativity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationStudies in Contemporary Jewry
Subtitle of host publicationXII: Literary Strategies: Jewish Texts and Contexts
PublisherOxford University Press
ISBN (Electronic)9780199854608
ISBN (Print)0195112032, 9780195112030
StatePublished - Oct 3 2011


  • Binary oppositions
  • Forgetfulness
  • Memory
  • Michah Yosef Berdichevsky
  • Paradoxes
  • Quasi-Nietzschean pattern

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities(all)


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