Madness as Both a Motif and a Source of Writing in Jewish Literature: "Kaddish for an Unborn Child," "Badenheim 1939," "Darkness Casts No Shadows"

By Yasemin Yilmaz.

Published by The International Journal of Interdisciplinary Cultural Studies

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Madness as Both a Motif and a Source of Writing: "Kaddish for an Unborn Child," "Badenheim 1939," "Darkness Casts No Shadow" Behind what is narrated as the different experiences of certain minority groups is found the same dynamics of the minority issue. The narration of how some people are labeled as the 'other' leads the reader to a discussion of certain notions such as suppression, submission, silence, and madness. In my paper, I will take madness as one of the central motifs of the three novels. As a term related to the characters' psychological state, madness functions as a motif and sheds light on the analysis of their physical acts, their language and their relations with other people. As a source of narration, madness forces the author to 'speak'. The act of writing - besides ensuring the writer's autonomy - also makes the writer responsible towards the reader. Within a theoretical analysis of the writing process, I will put special emphasis on the role of the writer and his/her relation with the reader. To explore this relationship, I will refer to several thinkers and authors as diverse as Michel Foucault, Shoshana Felman, and Czeslaw Milosz. By combining a theoretical analysis of madness with an interpretation of three literary works, I will make a re-study of the known relation between literature and madness.

Keywords: Madness, Writing, Literature

The International Journal of Interdisciplinary Cultural Studies, Volume 8, Issue 1, June 2014, pp.21-31. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 287.741KB).

Yasemin Yilmaz

Ph.D Student, Western Languages and Literatures, İstanbul University, Istanbul, Kadikoy, Turkey

I graduated from Boğaziçi University in 2007 and got M.A from the same university in 2010. My M.A thesis is a comparative analysis of V.S. Naipaul's The Mimic Men, Margaret Atwood's Surfacing, and Milan Kundera's Ignorance with respect to the notions of self and exile. I presented conference papers at IDEA Conference in Manisa/Turkey and Cultural Studies Conference at Ege University in İzmir/Turkey. Last year, I presented a paper on Kazuo Ishiguro's Never Let me Go at ISS Conference in Barcelona. I have been a Ph.D student at İstanbul University Western Languages and Literatures since 2010 and currently working on my thesis on A.S.Byatt's works. I worked as a lecturer at Gebze Institute of Technology from 2008 to 2013. Since February 2013, I have been working at ITU as a lecturer. My study areas include identity crisis, exile, and estrangement of the individual in literature.