I Den Frågandes Själ? (In the soul of the one who asks?): Mikael Enckell, Helsingfors: Söderströms, 1993.
Review by: Rolf Künstlicher, M.D.
Over the years, Mikael Enckell has constructed many bridges between psychoanalysis and various cultural areas such as poetry, literature, film and history. He has developed the art of applied psychoanalysis for the benefit of both psychoanalysis and the topic he has given his attention to.
In his new collection of essays, I den frågandes själ?, Mikael Enckell explores the influence of Jewish thought on our culture, a work he initiated in his previous collection of essays: Till Saknadens lov (1988). By way of introduction, Mikael Enckell emphasises how western culture is in debt to its Jewish origins, and to the need to restore the spiritual inheritance of Judaism. His essays revolve around the Convenance at Sinai with the Law, the fundamental principle of western ethic, and also around how the catastrophes of the Jewish people have influenced our civilisation.
Through the examples of Walter Benjamin, Franz Kafka, Sigmund Freud and Marcel Proust, he muses on the influence of Jewish ethic and anti-Semitism on these authors. Throughout these essays, Mikael Enckell substantiates his idea that these men of letters “reflect glimpses of the essentials of their half-erased Jewish background”, and from this rich book, I have especially chosen to develop a train of thought that runs through the text: The father-son relationship.
By way of the myth of Abraham and Isaac, Mikael Enckell illuminates the complexity of the love relation between father and son, and looks upon the relationship between tradition and breaking-up, or between Judaism and Christianity, as an analogy.
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