Trauma and Guilt in Yoram Kaniuk's Writings: "Soap" (2018) and the blood bond between the living and the dead

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This article explores the concept of trauma and guilt in Yoram Kaniuk's novels. Kaniuk's works were affected by two major traumas: The Holocaust and the 1948 Arab–Israeli War. Although the structure and circumstances of these two major events were different, as was the nature of the trauma in each, Kaniuk creates a web of links between them through the core concept of guilt that haunts all his protagonists. This article examines Sabon (Soap), the old-new novel Kaniuk wrote in the early 1960s but which was only recently discovered and published, as the first manifestation of this theme, and explores Kaniuk's later related texts to reveal the structure and power of inherent guilt. This reading integrates theories of literature and trauma, debates over the concept of guilt and "survivor guilt" and the notion of "the gray zone," as well as the Jewish and Israeli context of war and the myth of the living dead. It shows that a blood bond between the living and the dead is anchored in the kernel of Kaniuk's work, preventing his protagonists from ever healing from the trauma of war. [ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR]
Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)77-97
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Jewish Identities
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2022

Bibliographical note

Accession Number: 154174934; Authors: Mendelson-Maoz, Adia; Subject: GUILT (Psychology); Subject: HYPERLINKS; Subject: SOAP; Subject: HOLOCAUST, 1939-1945; Subject: PHILOSOPHY of literature; Subject: CIVILIANS in war; Subject: SHAME; Number of Pages: 22p; Full Text Word Count: 10984


  • GUILT (Psychology)
  • SOAP
  • HOLOCAUST, 1939-1945
  • PHILOSOPHY of literature
  • CIVILIANS in war

RAMBI publications

  • Kaniuk, Yoram -- Sabon
  • Kaniuk, Yoram -- Criticism and interpretation
  • Hebrew fiction, Modern -- History and criticism
  • Hebrew fiction, Modern -- Themes, motives
  • Death in literature
  • Psychic trauma in literature


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