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THE SILENCE OF THE HISTORIAN AND THE INGENUITY OF THE STORYTELLER: Rabbi Amnon of Mayence and Esther Minna of Worms

THE SILENCE OF THE HISTORIAN AND THE INGENUITY OF THE STORYTELLER: Rabbi Amnon of Mayence and... Page 228 THE SILENCE OF THE HISTORIAN AND THE INGENUITY OF THE STORYTELLER Rabbi Amnon of Mayence and Esther Minna of Worms Israel J. Translated by Naomi Goldblum Historians have increasingly, in recent years, become literary analysts. Chronicles have become narratives; debates are now discourses. Historical documents are representations and wide-ranging histories are multivocal accounts. It may be that, in the future, truth about the past will itself be extinct. And indeed, it has been wrong of us to think that historians are capable of “discovering” the past. We study what the past has left for us and have no idea what death has forever consumed. Professional historians have great difficulty reconstructing the tumultuous business of past lives, because we can read only documents that have not been silenced. As for the silent testimony of lives cut short, mills closed, and roads no longer traveled — our desire for a thicker slice of life can be satisfied, but not by historians, only by writers of fiction. It was with this awareness that I read A. B. Yehoshua’s novel A Journey to This essay was originally published in Hebrew in Alpayim 15 (1997). 9:2 Copyright 1997 by Am-Oved Publishers, http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Common Knowledge Duke University Press

THE SILENCE OF THE HISTORIAN AND THE INGENUITY OF THE STORYTELLER: Rabbi Amnon of Mayence and Esther Minna of Worms

Common Knowledge , Volume 9 (2) – Apr 1, 2003

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Publisher
Duke University Press
Copyright
Copyright 2003 by Duke University Press
ISSN
0961-754X
eISSN
1538-4578
DOI
10.1215/0961754X-9-2-228
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Page 228 THE SILENCE OF THE HISTORIAN AND THE INGENUITY OF THE STORYTELLER Rabbi Amnon of Mayence and Esther Minna of Worms Israel J. Translated by Naomi Goldblum Historians have increasingly, in recent years, become literary analysts. Chronicles have become narratives; debates are now discourses. Historical documents are representations and wide-ranging histories are multivocal accounts. It may be that, in the future, truth about the past will itself be extinct. And indeed, it has been wrong of us to think that historians are capable of “discovering” the past. We study what the past has left for us and have no idea what death has forever consumed. Professional historians have great difficulty reconstructing the tumultuous business of past lives, because we can read only documents that have not been silenced. As for the silent testimony of lives cut short, mills closed, and roads no longer traveled — our desire for a thicker slice of life can be satisfied, but not by historians, only by writers of fiction. It was with this awareness that I read A. B. Yehoshua’s novel A Journey to This essay was originally published in Hebrew in Alpayim 15 (1997). 9:2 Copyright 1997 by Am-Oved Publishers,

Journal

Common KnowledgeDuke University Press

Published: Apr 1, 2003

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