The 18th World Congress of Jewish Studies

Jacobo Fijman ante la crítica: tendencias metodológicas

My paper will examine the ways in which the Argentine Jewish poet Jacobo Fijman (1898-1970) and his work have been discussed over the years, with particular attention to tendencies in academic research. Fijman first gained recognition as a poet affiliated with the mid-1920s Buenos Aires avant-garde. His first collection, the 1926 Molino rojo, was viewed as experimental poetry with extreme thematic material. By the late 1920s, Fijman’s propensity to experience and write about visions led to his baptism but also to his reclassification as a Catholic poet. His collections of mystical poetry, the 1929 Hecho de estampas and Estrella de la mañana (1931), were praised by Argentine Catholic intellectuals such as Tomás de Lara. Fijman was later less visible, becoming a permanent psychiatric inpatient. In the 1960s, Fijman was rediscovered, in part thanks to Vicente Zito Lema. Zito Lema focused attention on relations between poetry, psychosis, and the mental-health system.

Subsequently, Fijman’s work became the subject of academic research, which reveals divergent tendencies. Some critics factor into their analyses two life circumstances, Fijman’s psychosis and his adoption of Catholicism. For example, Leonardo Senkman asserts that students of Fijman`s work need to address his conversion.[1] Yet scholarly discussion of his poetry has generally moved away from biographical approaches. Many recent researchers are literary critics who prioritize analysis of the text and its relations to other texts over biography and social context. Enzo Cárcano, who epitomizes this methodological stance, states that his discussion of Fijman`s writings “se sostiene exclusivamente en interpretaciones textuales.”[2]

I propose to review these and related trends over the decades, evaluate the methodological issues involved, and offer some suggestions for future Fijman studies.

[1] Leonardo Senkman, “Etnicidad y literatura en los años 20: Jacobo Fijman en las letras argentinas,” Río de la Plata: Culturas 4-5-6 (1987), pp. 163-75.

[2] Enzo Cárcano, “La poesía mística y marginal de Jacobo Fijman: una aproximación literaria,” CEHELIS 27, 35 (2018), pp. 96.