In his 1978 Nobel Prize acceptance speech, Isaac Bashevis Singer joked that there was no better language to use to talk about spirits and ghosts than Yiddish, a dead language. Through a close analysis of selected Bashevis short stories, Professor Herzog will look at how Bashevis uses demons and supernatural forces to explore the power of psychological impulses and obsessions, especially those that shift man away from religious values or social conventions.
With a bow to literary scholars Wolfgang Kayser and Mikhail Bakhtin, who viewed demons as a vehicle to portray “the grotesque” and the “carnivalesque” respectively, Professor Herzog will present three Bashevis short stories that, each ending with resonating, carnivalesque laughter, depict the reversal of a logical order and the potential for anyone to lose control over one’s life.
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