Vol. 10 (2021)
Studi e Saggi

The Jews That Never Returned: Internalised Displacement in Aharon Appelfeld’s Works

Alberto Legnaioli
Università degli Studi di Firenze

Published 2021-12-10


  • Aharon Appelfeld,
  • Displacement,
  • Identity,
  • Israeli Literature,
  • Survivor


With the publication of his first collection of short stories (Smoke, 1962), Appelfeld is among the first to distance himself from the dominant Zionist narrative by giving voice to European Jews who are either unknowingly heading toward annihilation or struggling to recompose their shattered identity in the aftermath of the Shoah. In his extensive review of modern Hebrew fiction, Shaked works on the assumption that this corpus engages in a constant dialogue with the so-called Zionist meta-narrative, “the basic Zionist myth about the return to Eretz Israel as a redeeming process” (Holtzman 2008, 283). Following Shaked’s interpretive model, this paper offers an analysis of character description in Appelfeld’s works that reveals a hidden tension toward the dominant framework and the emergence of an alternative identity paradigm.


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