Benjamin Fondane: Philoctetes And The Scream Of Exile

Eric M. Freedman, Hofstra Law School


In his preface to Philoctetes, Fondane wrote that "after all, better it should appear now than in the form of a posthumous work, with an introduction and critical notes. At least, dear reader, this edition has neither introduction nor critical notes - that's something anyhow." However, Philoctetes, a dramatic poem advertised as forthcoming in 1937, did not appear during Fondane's lifetime, and to honor his memory, we publish it now, albeit with an introduction and critical notes.

Benjamin Fondane's life and death were bounded by unjust laws. He was born on 14 November 1898 in the Moldavian city of Jassy, in a Romania which considered its large minority of Jewish inhabitants as foreigners, periodically passing discriminating laws against them, and formally agreeing to recognize them as Romanian nationals only in December 1919.