Community – Literary


Cristina Guarnieri


Aharon Appelfeld, The man who never stopped sleeping

Introductory remarks:

Silence and still silence. Within this silence we build terraces, plant trees and conquer every day a handful of Jewish words.

Aharon Appelfeld, The man who never stopped sleeping

The language community, the language of the community.

A boy left alone in the world, haunted by the ghosts of a terrible past gone by. A sleeping boy, shrouded in oblivion, is awakened by the utopia of a new language, of a new community. The dream of Zionism, the desire for a land, the search for belonging. But what does it mean to be part of a community? What risks does identification with a group entail? Is it possible to create a social bond with others without losing track of one’s singularity? “The word we is difficult” writes Aharon Appelfeld. “We is a pretentious word, one must be on one’s guard. A “we” without an ‘I’ is an empty word”. With Appelfeld’s novel we will try to reflect on the idea of community, a concept always poised between closure of identity and openness to the encounter with the Other in him/herself, and on the role that language can play in the formation of a common world.