The European Journal of Humour Research

Vol 5, No 3 (2017)

What is a „Sebastian”?: A nonsensical look at the poetry of Yona Wallach

Ailor Porat


This article compares the nonsense works of Lewis Carroll to the poetry of the canonical Hebrew poet Yona Wallach. Both writers present literary works which are not based on the logic of 'ordinary’ reality, but rather on systems of unfamiliar, surreal and 'dreamlike’ logic. However, Carroll’s logical nonsense is famously comical and playful in nature. Unlike him, Yona Wallach’s poetry is mostly regarded as 'serious’, even tragic, with a 'doom-like’ atmosphere hovering over it. Nonetheless, and precisely because of their considerable dissimilarity, the comparison between Yona Wallach and Lewis Carroll discloses their surprising similarity. In this artiel will examine two mechanisms in which they both play with the conventional meanings of words and use them incongruously, non-commonsensically.

Throughout this article, Carroll reveals his serious and gloomy face whereas Wallach reveals her (hardly spoken of) logical and amused face.

Thus, the contrasts between the comically playful accuracy of Carroll’s work and Wallach’s ambiguous and mostly „dark” poetry, sheds light on their respective mechanisms of signification and humor-making, in a manner indiscernible when each is treated in isolation.


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