Loving YusufConceptual Travels from Present to Past

Loving YusufConceptual Travels from Present to Past

Mieke Bal

Print publication date: 2013

ISBN: 9780226035864

Publisher: University of Chicago Press


When the author of this book reread the story of Joseph and Potiphar's wife as an adult, she was struck by differences between her childhood memories of a moral tale and what she read today. This book seeks to resolve this clash between memory and text, using the same story, in which Joseph spurns the advance of his master's wife who then falsely accuses him of rape, as her point of departure. The book juxtaposes the Genesis tale to the rather different version told in the Qur'an and the depictions of it by Rembrandt, and explores how Thomas Mann's great retelling in Joseph and His Brothers reworks these versions. Through this inquiry, the text develops concepts for the analysis of texts that are both strange and overly familiar—culturally remote yet constantly retold. As the book puts personal memories in dialogue with scholarly exegesis, it asks how all of these different versions complicate her own and others' experience of the story, and how the different truths of these texts in their respective traditions illuminate the process of canonization.