Avot Yeshurun’s self-commentary

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Throughout his literary career, which spanned over sixty years, Avot Yeshurun responded to readers’ dismay at his poems’ hermeticism by attempting to explain the logic of his writing. Although critics never fail to mention the difficulty of Yeshurun’s poetic language, his self-exegetic texts, which often appeared as paratexts in his volumes of poetry, have gone largely ignored. This essay reads Yeshurun’s self-commentary as a fundamental tenet of his writing and as a crucial aspect of his poetic address. While this self-commentary is at times hermetic in itself, it embodies the tension between Yeshurun’s pursuit of self-knowledge and the ineffable nature of his inner world. Yeshurun’s exceptionally difficult poetic language, and especially his use of the enigmatic word “yahndes,” which provoked critics’ ire upon its first appearance in 1952, will be read in two discursive contexts: Roman Jakobson’s “Linguistics and Poetics” and W.R. Bion’s “Attacks on Linking.” While both Jakobson’s and Bion’s formulation may shed light on the fractured communication between Yeshurun and his readers, his self-commentary may be viewed as attempts to reach out and mend this rift.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)99-121
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Modern Jewish Studies
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2022


  • Avot Yeshurun
  • Hebrew poetry
  • hermetic poetry
  • paratext
  • psychoanalysis
  • self-commentary

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Cultural Studies
  • History
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Political Science and International Relations


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