Query: Seeking Literary References

Ruth Panofsky's picture

Please forgive this unusual query. I am looking for literary works that explore incestuous relationships between Jewish mothers and their sons. I know of Adele Wiseman's novel Crackpot (1974) and Blume Lempel's story "Oedipus in Brooklyn" (published in Yiddish 1981; published in English 2016). I'd be grateful for further references. Please reply offline, if you prefer.

With sincere thanks,

Ruth Panofsky, PhD, FRSC

Department of English

Ryerson University

350 Victoria Street

Toronto, Ontario  M5B 2K3

416 979 5000 ext. 6150



Categories: Query
Keywords: literature, incest

Dear Ruth,

For another 'Oedipal' work, see Alberto Moravia's (1907-1990) Il dio Kurt that takes place in a Nazi concentration camp (Milano, 1968; repr. in Aline Nari and Franco Vazzoler, eds., Alberto Moravia. Teatro, Milano, 1998, vol. 2). You may wish to read about this play the following articles: Richard Fabrizio, "Moravia's Il dio Kurt: Sophocles and the Oedipus Legend in Italy," Italica, 58, 4 (1981): 251-263; Alvin Goldfarb, "Greek Tragedy and the Nazi Concentration Camps: Charolette Delbo's Qui Rapportera Ces Paroles? and Alberto Moravia's Il dio Kurt," Exchange, 6, 3 (1980): 1-10; Rosanna Lauriola, "Sophocles' Oedipus Rex and Moravia’s Il dio Kurt: Oedipus as βάσανος of a Nazi Experiment and The Ideology of Race," Dioniso, 6 (2016): 153-184. On the theme of incest in Moravia's works, see Sergio Torresani, "Violenza e incesto nel teatro di Alberto Moravia," Vita e Pensiero, 52, 6 (1969): 488-491; Gideon Bachmann, "Why Has Incest Always Been Repressed? A Conversation with Alberto Moravia," Film Quarterly, 39, 3 (1986): 29-32.

On Hebrew being a mother tongue and the metaphor of incest, see Shira Stav, "Incest and Intertext: Bialik, Wallach, Wieseltier" [in Hebrew], 'Iyyunim be-safah ve-hevrah. Israel Studies in Language and Society, 10, 2 (2017): 156-174.


Liran Yadgar

Oklahoma State University, History Department

For the question of Ruth Panofsky, who is looking for literary works that explore incestuous relationships between Jewish mothers and their sons:
For a Talmudic story that deals with such a tension between mother and her son – see my "Gender and Dialogue in the Rabbinic Prism" (Studia Judaica; de Gruyter, 2012), pp. 109-132.

Admiel Kosman
Potsdam University