Considers the tales of Reb Nahman of Bratslav within a broad cultural milieu, including the romanticism of Reb Nahman's time, contemporary feminist hermeneutics, and the fantastic in various contexts.
One of the most radically innovative of Hasidic masters, Reb Nahman of Bratslav transformed images and concepts basic to Jewish thought into new and compelling forms. Tradition and Fantasy in the Tales of Reb Nahman of Bratslav uses comparative literary criticism, a range of Hasidic commentary, and original exegesis of the source texts to bring the complex artistry of Reb Nahman's thought to light, making it accessible to a wider audience.
Ora Wiskind-Elper teaches at Michlalah Jerusalem College and at Matan–Women's Institute for Torah Studies.
"A work of impeccable scholarship and impressive scope, it builds on all available primary and secondary sources in Hebrew, English, and German about this most protean of religious and imaginative thinkers. There is no other work in any language on Reb Nahman's Tales as thorough, comprehensive, and original as this, and it is fair to say that all subsequent works will be measured against this one. Wiskind-Elper has delivered on both the 'tradition' and 'fantasy' side of her title, which is to say, she has situated Reb Nahman's symbolism, theology, plots, motifs, and style within the huge corpus of Jewish sacred narrative, while at the same time providing a rigorous literary analysis of these tales as exemplars of fantasy literature. In a bold stroke, she has redefined the genre of fantasy literature in terms of Reb Nahman's Tales. Thus, without soft-peddling the otherness of Reb Nahman's religious imagination, she has made it accessible to intelligent readers of any modern persuasion." — David G. Roskies, author of A Bridge of Longing: The Lost Art of Yiddish Storytelling