University of Glasgow PG Conference: Fluidity
Translation Studies and Comparative Literature
Wonderful poster, and a really thoughtful presentation of the key ideas. Your blending of the literal and the biblical is very apt. Water both cleanses and aids new life.
Thank you so much, Will.
Very interesting indeed. Is it possible that Lethe river, the river of forgetfulness in the Greek mythology, could also have some meaning for how the dialogue develops? Considering the very painful past of how women were treated, the trend of forgetfulness could perhaps spark more equal treatment, less dominated by the feelings of ‘revenge’? However, the novel’s title does seem to point into a quite different direction. Anyway, you definitely make we want to read the novel written by a man who appears to be very much women-centred. Good luck with your research!
Dear Elwira, thanks for your thoughtful insight. Forgetfulness – as well as its opposite – definitely plays an important role in the protagonists’ journey. Throughout the dialogue, both Yair and Miriam struggle with letting their past go. The letter exchange is essential for them because it brings back the painful memories both characters have tried to bury and forget. However, by writing them all down, Yair and Miriam start accepting their mistakes and understand the importance of dealing with their negative emotions in a better way.
As for the novel’s title, you are right, it does seem to point in a different direction. However, the knife is considered both as a tool for and against forgetfulness. In one of the first letters, Yair writes: ‘I want to be able to say to myself, “I bled truth with her,” yes, that’s what I want. Be a knife for me, and I, I swear, will be a knife for you: sharp but compassionate’ (p. 8). Here, the metaphor of the knife stands for the role of letter writing in the protagonists’ inner journey. The knife is at once sharp but compassionate, functioning as a means to bring back to surface the painful memories but also to make peace with them.
A last comment about the title. ‘Be My Knife’ is actually a quotation taken from Franz Kafka’s ‘Letters to Milena’ and Grossman’s novel certainly plays a lot with Kafka’s text.
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