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Salberg, J. (2012). Reimagining Yentl While Revisiting Feminism in the Light of Relational Approaches to Gender and Sex. Studies in Gender and Sexuality, 13(3):185-196.

(2012). Studies in Gender and Sexuality, 13(3):185-196

Reimagining Yentl While Revisiting Feminism in the Light of Relational Approaches to Gender and Sex

Jill Salberg, Ph.D.

This article is an imaginative endeavor based upon the short story “Yentl the Yeshiva Boy” written by Isaac Bashevis Singer (1982). In taking creative license and entering Yentl's world, a new voice and narrative emerges for her and the major characters in the story. Using psychoanalytic relational theories on multiple self-states and postmodern gender and sexuality perspectives, this article undertakes fleshing out the characters and the motives of Bashevis Singer in writing the story. From each character's point of view we learn more of Yentl's subjectivity, her multiply oriented desires from multiple self-states, and expand Singer's story from its original linear course. In Singer's work, Yentl is a two dimensional girl possessing the “soul of a man,” which would mean in the 19th-century Poland Jewish shtetl world that she longs to study Torah/Talmud in a yeshiva. From this paradoxical premise the story eventually ends with Yentl surrendering all claim to the male world of study and then vanishing from the story altogether. This article plays off of this original premise—a male soul within the body of a female—but, instead of seeing this as a binary kind of conflict that must be resolved, that one must be masculine or feminine, girl or boy, heterosexual or homosexual, now will allow for the multiplicity of selves, wishes, and desires of Yentl, a postmodern woman living in a premodernity world.

“Truth itself is often concealed in such a way that the harder you look for it, the harder it is to find.” (Singer, 1982, p. 169)

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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