Cite: Keren, Appropriation of the Hegemonic Bookcase as a Cultural Rite of Passage

Keren, Nitza. “Appropriation of the Hegemonic Bookcase as a Cultural Rite of Passage and Right of Admission into the Israeli Poetry Club.” Nashim 22 (2011): 56-87.






This essay discusses the poetical works of three Israeli women writers: Rebecca Rass, Ronit Yochel Hittin and Michal Govrin. All three master the "Father Language" and patriarchal cultural assets, thus defying hegemonic traditional assumptions about women and writing as defined by modern Hebrew literature’s founding fathers. In the spirit of Patricia Yaeger’s description of the "emancipatory strategies" used by women writers for whom language is a source of power and pleasure, and inspired by Alicia Ostriker’s characterization of women poets as "the thieves of language" engaging in "revisionist mythmaking," this discussion will demonstrate Rass’s, Yochel Hittin’s and Govrin’s skilful use of language and intertextuality. Rebecca Rass recasts the rebirth myth that shapes T.S. Eliot’s Wasteland and repositions it in the local Land of Flowering Bones, charging the ancient myth with present-day Israeli overtones. Eliot’s wanderings across the territories of language inspire Michal Govrin in her Chronicle of Exegesis of the heavy Jewish bookcase. Likewise, Ronit Yochel Hittin sets the ancient myth of the Phoenix rising from its ashes in the context of Jewish history, thus sharpening its existential significance.

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