Surviving Lamentations

Catastrophe, Lament, and Protest in the Afterlife of a Biblical Book

Tod Linafelt

Surviving Lamentations
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Tod Linafelt

192 pages | 5-1/2 x 8-1/2 | © 2000
Cloth $45.00 ISBN: 9780226481906 Published July 2000
Most contemporary interpretations of the biblical book of Lamentations focus on the figure of the "suffering man" as a role model for submission in the face of God's punishment for sin. Yet such a model offers small consolation to survivors of the Holocaust or other mass atrocities and also ignores chapters 1 and 2 of Lamentations, in which the personification of Zion laments her sufferings and demands a response on behalf of her dying children.

In Surviving Lamentations, Tod Linafelt offers an alternative reading of Lamentations in light of the "literature of survival" (works written by survivors of catastrophe) as well as literary and philosophical reflections on "the survival of literature." He refocuses attention on the figure of Zion as a manifestation of a basic need to give voice to suffering, and traces the afterlife of Lamentations in Jewish literature, in which text after text attempts to provide the response to Zion's lament that is lacking in Lamentations itself.

Seen through Linafelt's eyes, Lamentations emerges as uncannily relevant to contemporary discourse on survival.
Introduction: How to Survive the Book of Lamentations
1. Matters of Life and Death: Literature of Survival and the Survival of Literature
2. "None Survived or Escaped": Reading for Survival in Lamentations 1 and 2
3. Living beyond Lamentations: The Rhetoric of Survival in Second Isaiah
4. Survival in Translation: The Targum to Lamentations
5. Life in Excess: The Midrash on Lamentations
6. Poetics of Survival: Eleazar Ben Kallir's Medieval Kinot
7. Survival under Threat: Contemporary Possibilities and Impossibilities
Appendix: Three Kinot of Eliezer Ben Kallir
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