Edmond Jabes's 'Infinite', 'Exploded' Book

Author: Suzi Hall

Hall, Suzi, 2018 Edmond Jabes's 'Infinite', 'Exploded' Book, Flinders University, College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences

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This thesis aims to examine the literary legacy of the Egyptian-French, atheist Jewish poet and writer Edmond Jabès, in particular his concept of ‘the Book’ as an open-ended system of ‘infinite’ and ‘exploded’, fragmentary, non-linear nature.

This thesis will in turn examine the reasons behind, origins of and influences upon Jabès’s concept of ‘the Book’, in his life and in the impressions made on him by the surrounding historical events of the time. These events include the Shoah, and the Suez crisis, with the poet’s resulting exile. The thesis also marks out and traces the most important characteristics of Jabès’s unique Book (which incorporates all 26 volumes of his life’s work – most notably, the seven-volume series of Le Livre des Questions.)

Also, Jabès’s friendships with some of the key French intellectuals of the 20th century – Jacques Derrida, Maurice Blanchot and Emmanuel Levinas – will be considered in relation to the four writers’ field of mutual influence with respect to relevant literary and philosophical questions on, most particularly: the ‘trace’, the ‘Other’, the poet/writer and the Jew, and Judaism and the Book.

It is hoped that the outcome of this research project will be a wider appreciation of Jabès’s literary work, with its unique voice and techniques, and its poetic, philosophical and semi-religious ideas. In addition I hope to demonstrate that Jabès’s literary-philosophical ideas remain directly relevant to the ways in which we experience literature, poetry and the book in the 21st century, and that his ideas have ongoing significance. 

Keywords: Edmond Jabes, Jabes, 20th century French poetry

Subject: Humanities thesis

Thesis type: Doctor of Philosophy
Completed: 2018
School: College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences
Supervisor: Robert Phiddian