The poetics of secrecy what remains unsaid in y. H. brenner’s in Winter?

Michael Gluzman*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This essay offers an economic reading of Y. H. Brenner’s In Winter, which marks the emergence of Hebrew modernism. By describing Brenner’s shifting articulations of the social/psychological divide, I suggest that his perception of poverty is a hermeneutical key for understanding his literary work in the early twentieth century. Material poverty permeates Brenner’s early collection of short stories, Out of a Gloomy Valley (1900), which seems to underscore the social and material underpinnings of Jewish suffering. But, with In Winter (1903), it becomes clear that poverty has changed its significance for Brenner. Poverty becomes not only a material reality but a tenet of the textual fabric itself, signifying the disheveled style of the narrator-protagonist’s writing. Moreover, as In Winter draws nearer to its conclusion, poverty gains yet another meaning as impoverishment turns into a key psychological concept that transcends its social foundation, elucidating the empty, inexplicable void the protagonist experiences. The figuration of poverty sheds light on Brenner’s gradual modification of the social/psychological binary within In Winter itself. The novel’s ending, which is the focal point of my reading, constitutes a powerful departure from the social, marking the unsaid as the text’s secret nucleus.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)666-687
Number of pages22
JournalProoftexts - Journal of Jewish Literature History
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2019


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