The Mystics of Mile End is a study in patterns. Throughout Montreal author Sigal Samuel’s award-winning 2015 novel, we find characters obsessed with investigating, capturing, and solving the patterns of the universe, whether mathematical, biological, sexual, astronomical, or metaphysical. We find children, teenagers, young adults, middle-aged widowers, teachers, and elderly Holocaust survivors, all trying to find patterns of various types. In this study, I aim to illuminate the ways in which Sigal Samuel expertly utilizes, adapts, and flips on its head the archetypal character of the “Knower” in Jewish writing. By undertaking a brief exploration through time of a variety of characters who inhabit the space between this world and the Other in Jewish sources from the past, we might better understand just what makes Samuel’s work so special, and so Jewish.
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