Bulletin: Israeli literature and Israel in Literature

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New Article: Bar-Itzhak, Literary Representations of Haifa

Bar-Itzhak, Chen. “The Dissolution of Utopia: Literary Representations of the City of Haifa, between Herzl’s Altneuland and Later Israeli Works.” Partial Answers 14.2 (2016): 323-41.

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URL: https://muse.jhu.edu/article/621157

 

Abstract

This article traces literary depictions of the city of Haifa, starting from its utopian literary prototype in Theodor Herzl’s influential Altneuland (1902), and continuing with later Israeli writing, by Yehudit Hendel, Sami Michael, and Hillel Mittelpunkt. The article shows how the Israeli works discussed set literary Haifa as a stage for examining questions of identity, belonging, and the relations between individual and society, through an emphasis on the complex ties between language, ethnicity, and space. The literary city of these works is compared to the city of Herzl’s utopian vision. I argue that the evolution of literary Haifa is associated with shifts in Israeli collective self-perception: from the utopian mode of thought, in which difficulties and complexities remain invisible, through the gradual turning of the gaze towards the difficulties and fractures in the emergent new society (first within the Jewish society, but then also outside it — among the Arab minority); and finally, to an inability to accept the absence of utopia from the present, leading to escapism and a quest for the longed-for ideal in the pre-national past.

 

 

 

New Book: Levy, Israeli Theatre (in Hebrew)

Levy, Shimon. Israeli Theatre. Time, Space, Plot. Tel Aviv: Resling, 2016 (in Hebrew).

 
Israeli Theatre
 

In the absence of a well-established tradition of drama, the new Hebrew theatre in Palestine at the beginning of the 20th century, is caught in a fruitful and fascinating bind. Processes of secularization and liberalization among world Jewry and pre-State Israel fostered openness towards the theatre. This relatively new art in Jewish tradition was also seen as entertainment, but in its early years it was primarily employed as an educational and ideological tool in the service of Zionist national needs in the struggle for the creation of a Hebrew culture. The dramatic nature of this change in the status of Jews and Israel not only summoned a revived reading of Jewish history, but also its staging, pun intended, on the Hebrew stage, in the Land of Israel, and of course – the Hebrew language.

This book addresses issues and topics of Israeli drama and theatre from a social-artistic perspective. The prologue treats the development of a Jewish-Hebrew-Israeli theatre against the backdrop of secularization of the Jewish community from the early 19th century to its flourish in contemporary Israel. The basic conditions for theatre in general and Israeli theatre in particular are discussed in a chapter on space in Israeli drama. Theatrical props are discussed in a chapter which examines the idiosyncrasy of local drama through one of the elements of its space design. The Hebrew Bible and Judaism are addressed in a chapter on secular sanctity, characteristic to our stage. Another component of Israeli identity, its attitude toward Arabs, wars and the protracted conflict, is discussed in a chapter entitled “captive in fiction.” A discussion of three giants in Israeli drama – Nissim Aloni, Joshua Sobol and Hanoch Levin – is structured by the meta-theatrical intentionalism of each of them. the Acco Festival, an annual event since 1980, is discussed as a key component in the Israeli theatrical scene. The book concludes with a eulogy for the Hebrew radio drama, a celebrated genre in its heyday until it was marginalized by television, but its significant contribution to Israeli drama nevertheless remains.

 

SHIMON LEVY is a Professor Emeritus of Theatre at Tel Aviv University, where he taught for many years, and was chair of the Department of Theatre Arts. His main areas of research are Hebrew-Israeli theatre and drama, the works of Samuel Beckett, and theories of chaos in relation to theatre. He has published dozens of articles, and hundreds of essays on theatre in Hebrew, English, and German, as well as about ten books. He has translated over 100 plays for the stage, and continues to be active as a director in Israel and abroad.

 

 

 

ToC: Hebrew Studies 56 (2015)

Below are the relevant articles for Israel Studies from the latest issue of Hebrew Studies. For a full Table of Contents,click here.

 

Innovative Designation of Diminution in the Writings of Abraham Shlonsky

pp. 231-243

Bat-Zion Yemini

Memory and History in Israeli Post-Apocalyptic Theater

pp. 245-263

Zahava Caspi

Questioning Boundaries of Language and the World: Ambivalence and Disillusionment in the Writings of Shimon Adaf

pp. 265-294

Dorit Lemberger

Hebrew Neologisms in the Writings of Anton Shammas

pp. 295-314

Adel Shakour, Abdallah Tarabeih

The Pain of Two Homelands: Immigration to Israel in Twenty-First Century Hebrew Prose Fiction

pp. 315-331

Smadar Shiffman

“Our Virgin Friends and Wives”?: Female Sexual Subjectivity in Yona Wallach’s Poetry

pp. 333-356

Amalia Ziv

New Testament Jesus in Modern Jewish Literature: A Symposium

pp. 357-358

Zev Garber

Jesus and the Pharisees through the Eyes of Two Modern Hebrew Writers: A Contrarian Perspective

pp. 359-365

Neta Stahl

A Question of Truth: Form, Structure, and Character in Der man fun Natseres

pp. 367-376

Melissa Weininger

Overtones of Isaac and Jesus in Modern Hebrew Narrative

pp. 377-384

Aryeh Wineman

The Jewish Jesus: Conversation, Not Conversion

pp. 385-392

Zev Garber

Reviews

 

Compassion and Fury: On The Fiction of A. B. Yehoshua by Gilead Morahg (review)

pp. 433-436

Yael Halevi-Wise

Periodicals

pp. 437-456

Books Received — 2015

pp. 457-460

New Articles: Stähler, Israel in British Jewish Fiction

Stähler, Axel. “‘Almost too good to be true’: Israel in British Jewish Fiction, Pre-Lebanon.” In The Edinburgh Companion to Modern Jewish Fiction (ed. David Brauner and Axel Stähler; Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2015): 237-52.

 

Stähler, Axel. “The Writing on the Wall: Israel in British Jewish Fiction, Post-Lebanon.” In The Edinburgh Companion to Modern Jewish Fiction (ed. David Brauner and Axel Stähler; Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2015): 253-66.

Edinburgh companion

 

New Book: Katz, Bringing Zion Home. Israel in American Jewish Culture

Katz, Emily Alice. Bringing Zion Home. Israel in American Jewish Culture, 1948-1967. Albany: SUNY Press, 2015.

 

Katz, Bringing Zion Home

 

Bringing Zion Home examines the role of culture in the establishment of the “special relationship” between the United States and Israel in the immediate postwar decades. Many American Jews first encountered Israel through their roles as tastemakers, consumers, and cultural impresarios—that is, by writing and reading about Israel; dancing Israeli folk dances; promoting and purchasing Israeli goods; and presenting Israeli art and music. It was precisely by means of these cultural practices, argues Emily Alice Katz, that American Jews insisted on Israel’s “natural” place in American culture, a phenomenon that continues to shape America’s relationship with Israel today.

Katz shows that American Jews’ promotion and consumption of Israel in the cultural realm was bound up with multiple agendas, including the quest for Jewish authenticity in a postimmigrant milieu and the desire of upwardly mobile Jews to polish their status in American society. And, crucially, as influential cultural and political elites positioned “culture” as both an engine of American dominance and as a purveyor of peace in the Cold War, many of Israel’s American Jewish impresarios proclaimed publicly that cultural patronage of and exchange with Israel advanced America’s interests in the Middle East and helped spread the “American way” in the postwar world. Bringing Zion Home is the first book to shine a light squarely upon the role and importance of Israel in the arts, popular culture, and material culture of postwar America.

Emily Alice Katz teaches history at the University of California, Irvine.

 

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Acknowledgments

1. Introduction: Postwar American Jewry Reconsidered

2. Before Exodus: Writing Israel for an American Audience

3. Hora Hootenannies and Yemenite Hoedowns: Israeli Folk Dance in America

4. A Consuming Passion: Israeli Goods in American Jewish Culture

5. Cultural Emissaries and the Culture Explosion: Introducing Israeli Art and Music

Conclusion
Notes
Bibliography
Index

 

New Article: Smola, Utopian Space and Time in Soviet Jewish Exodus Literature

Smola, Klavdia. “The Reinvention of the Promised Land: Utopian Space and Time in Soviet Jewish Exodus Literature.” East European Jewish Affairs 45.1 (2015): 79-108.

 

URL: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/13501674.2015.992711

 

Abstract

The Jewish underground movement in the Soviet Union in the second half of the 1960s produced literature that became a part of the counterculture of Soviet dissent. For the first time in decades, Russian Jews identified, to a significant degree, as people of the galut (Jewish Diaspora). The battle for the return to Israel and the new Jewish renaissance in the intellectual sphere of the unofficial led to the emergence of new topographical concepts, which were inspired primarily by the Jewish cultural tradition. In fact, the exodus texts written in the 1960s–1980s represented a new, late Soviet shaping of Zionist prose. They relate to the symbol of the Promised Land as a fundamental projection of aspirations. Late Soviet Zionist texts share the traditional Jewish vision of Israel as an imagined topos of the original homeland that is both retrospective (with reference to the biblical promise of the land and the seizure of Canaan) and prospective (return and redemption). The Exodus story contained in Sefer Shemot becomes a leading poetic, philosophical and at times religiously charged metaphor of liberation and reunification. The re-strengthened collective memory of tradition required biblical symbols to be imbued with new semiotic power.

This paper will show that the historical dimension of the events dealt with in the literature often has strong mystical and mythological traits and displays messianic-apocalyptic hopes of salvation. However, alternative literary space and time models represented in the aliyah literature hereby betray their rootedness in the teleology of the communist regime. The powerful Israel utopia reflects both the eschatological time of the Soviet empire and its phantasms of paradise on earth. Late Soviet Zionism and totalitarian discourse are shown to be two space-time utopias.

 

 

Event: Ilana Pardes discusses her new book at Stanford, Sep 30, 2014

Agnon’s Moonstruck Lovers: The Song of Songs in Israeli Culture

Agnons-Moonstruck-Lovers
Lecture and conversation with Ilana Pardes,
Professor of Comparative Literature at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
Tuesday, September 30, 4:00pm  
Building 260, Room 252 

Stanford University


In adopting the Song of Songs, Zionist interpreters sought to return to the erotic, pastoral landscapes of biblical times. Their quest for a new, uplifting, secular literalism, however, could not efface the haunting impact of allegorical configurations of love. 
 
“This new study confirms Ilana Pardes as one of the most deeply interesting scholars in the field of comparative literature.”
-Robert Alter, University of California, Berkeley
Presented by the Taube Center for Jewish Studies in collaboration with Hebrew@Stanford and the Department of Comparative Literature.

 

New Book: Pardes, Agnon’s Moonstruck Lovers

Pardes, Ilana. Agnon’s Moonstruck Lovers. The Song of Songs in Israeli Culture, Samuel and Althea Stroum Lectures in Jewish Studies. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2014.

 

Agnons-Moonstruck-Lovers

 

Agnon’s Moonstruck Lovers explores the response of Israel’s Nobel laureate S. Y. Agnon to the privileged position of the Song of Songs in Israeli culture. Standing at a unique crossroads between religion and secularism, Agnon probes the paradoxes and ambiguities of the Zionist hermeneutic project. In adopting the Song, Zionist interpreters sought to return to the erotic, pastoral landscapes of biblical times. Their quest for a new, uplifting, secular literalism, however, could not efface the haunting impact of allegorical configurations of love. With superb irony, Agnon’s tales recast Israeli biblicism as a peculiar chapter within the ever-surprising history of biblical exegesis.

Ilana Pardes is professor of comparative literature at the Hebrew University, Jerusalem.
Table of Contents
Acknowledgments

1. Introduction: Upon the Handles of the Lock

2. The Song of Songs as Cultural Text: From the European Enlightenment to Israeli Biblicism

3. Rechnitz’s Botany of Love: The Song of Seaweed

4. The Biblical Ethnographies of “Edo and Enam” and the Quest for the Ultimate Song

Epilogue
Forevermore

Appendix
Notes
Bibliography
Index

 

New Article: Shumsky, Travel, Tourism, and Cultural Zionism in Herzl’s Altneuland

Shumsky, Dimitry. “‘This Ship Is Zion!’: Travel, Tourism, and Cultural Zionism in Theodor Herzl’s Altneuland.” Jewish Quarterly Review 104.3 (2014): 471-93.

 

URL: http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/jewish_quarterly_review/v104/104.3.shumsky.html

 

 

Abstract

One of the central elements of Herzlian spatial-political thought that has been filtered out of the deterministic historiographical discourse on Herzl-the-visionary-of-the-nation-state is that of travel and tourism, as well as the cultural significance and political context of the representations of travel and tourism in his utopian-political novel Altneuland.

The present article argues, however, that it is precisely through accounting for the notions of travel and tourism at work in Theodor Herzl’s Altneuland that one can appreciate Herzl’s perception of homecoming in its full complexity. The development of this argument is divided into the following three areas: (1) a survey of the expressions of the theme of travel and tourism in Altneuland which have been largely overlooked by virtually all the historians, political scientists and literary scholars dealing with Herzl’s novel; (2) a rethinking of the cultural and political aspects of Herzlian Zionism given the appropriate assessment of the role played by the motif(s) of travel and tourism in his vision of the future Palestine, as well as placing those aspects within the wider historical context of the contemporary development of political territorially-oriented national movements in the Habsburg Central Europe where Herzlian nationalism had emerged; (3) framing discussion on the journey element in the Herzlian Zionism in terms of relevant theoretical discourse on travel, tourism and homecoming, with purpose of drawing through the case of Herzl’s employment of travel motifs some broad theoretical reflections on travel, Zionism and homecoming in the time (and space) of fin-de-siècle multiethnic empires.

 

 

 

 

ToC: Israel Affairs 20,2 (2014): Special Issue, Politics and Poetry

Israel Affairs 20,2 (2014)

Special Issue: Politics and Poetry in Israel

http://www.tandfonline.com/toc/fisa20/20/2

 

Articles

Poetry and poets in the public sphere

Assaf Meydani & Nadir Tsur; pages 141-160

  • DOI:10.1080/13537121.2014.889889
  • Published online: 01 Apr 2014

The leader as a poet: the political and ideological poetry of Ze’ev Jabotinsky

Arye Naor; pages 161-181

  • DOI:10.1080/13537121.2014.889890
  • Published online: 22 May 2014

The image of the ‘living-dead’ in Nathan Alterman’s poetry: from archetype to national symbol

Ortsion Bartana; pages 182-194

  • DOI:10.1080/13537121.2014.889886
  • Published online: 29 May 2014

The art of politics and poetry: the political poetry of Jacques Prevert and Aryeh Sivan

Samuel (Muli) Peleg; pages 195-213

  • DOI:10.1080/13537121.2014.889892
  • Published online: 07 May 2014

Hegemony inside and out: Nathan Alterman and the Israeli Arabs

Yochai Oppenheimer; pages 214-225

  • DOI:10.1080/13537121.2014.889891
  • Published online: 04 Apr 2014

‘Silent in white ink’: the motif of silence in Israeli-Palestinian women’s poetry translated from Arabic to Hebrew

Leah Baratz & Roni Reingold; pages 226-239

  • DOI:10.1080/13537121.2014.889885
  • Published online: 16 Apr 2014

Politics and poetry in the works of Shalom Shabazī

Yosef Tobi; pages 240-255

  • DOI:10.1080/13537121.2014.889893
  • Published online: 14 Apr 2014

Why did poetry and piyut disappear from the religious-Zionist High Holy Day prayer book, and what prompted their return?

Shimon Fogel; pages 256-270

  • DOI:10.1080/13537121.2014.889887
  • Published online: 04 Apr 2014

An Israeli Bob Dylan is yet to be born: the politics of Israeli protest music

Yitzhak Katz; pages 271-279

  • DOI:10.1080/13537121.2014.889888
  • Published online: 26 Mar 2014

New Article: Elimelekh, Fantasy as ‘Recovery, Escape and Consolation’ in the Short Stories of Isaac Bar Moshe

Elimelekh, Geula. “Fantasy as ‘Recovery, Escape and Consolation’ in the Short Stories of Isaac Bar Moshe.” Middle Eastern Studies 50.3 (2014): 426-41.

 

URL: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/00263206.2014.886567

 


Abstract

Isaac Bar Moshe (1927-2004) was born in Baghdad and immigrated to Israel in 1950. This article deals with his literary world, which is split between realism on the one hand and fantasy, mysticism and dreams on the other, with both these planes reflecting his perspective on various existential questions. The article focuses on the short stories in his book Behind the Wall (1973), which, like many of his other works, are largely anchored in his private life and depict a bleak reality, with dreams and fantasy offering the only hope of escape into a better, more spiritual world. The article concludes with an analysis of Bar Moshe’s stories in terms of the three functions of fantasy – ‘recovery, escape and consolation’ – as formulated by writer and philologist J.R.R. Tolkien in his book Tree and Leaf.

New Article: Natkovich, “Tristan da Runha” as Jabotinsky’s Social Fantasy

Natkovich, Svetlana. “A Land of Harsh Ways: ‘Tristan da Runha’ as Jabotinsky’s Social Fantasy.” Jewish Social Studies 19.2 (2013): 24-49.

Abstract

This article discusses Jabotinsky’s social fantasy “Tristan da Runha” (1925) as one of the central works in his literary oeuvre, which formulates his artistic and ideological predilections on the eve of the founding of the Revisionist movement. By imagining an island community of exiled criminals cut off from civilization, Jabotinsky investigates the conditions necessary for the creation of his vision of an ideal society, one organized in accordance with primal intuition and thus without need of coercive regulatory mechanisms. “Tristan da Runha” offers a key to understanding Jabotinsky’s political and aesthetic affinities with English literature and the British colonialist narrative, his underlying social thought, and the underpinnings of his political views in the 1920s.

Cite: Bar-Yosef, Haifa as Futuristic Urban Fantasy in Herzl’s Altneuland and Guttenberg’s A Modern Exodus

Bar-Yosef, Eitan. “New Cities for New Jews: Haifa as Futuristic Urban Fantasy in Theodor Herzl’s Altneuland and Violet Guttenberg’s A Modern Exodus.” Journal of Modern Jewish Studies 12.2 (2013): 162-83.

 

URL: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/14725886.2013.796155

 

Abstract

This essay explores the representation of the modern Jewish city in Palestine, envisioned in two fin-de-siècle futuristic tales: Theodor Herzl’s Altneuland (1902) and Violet Guttenberg’s A Modern Exodus (1904). Focusing on the northern port city of Haifa, transformed by the Jews from a poor Oriental town into a thriving Europeanized metropolis, both novelists employ the city’s spatial, cultural, and human features to present radically different views concerning the national Jewish rejuvenation: for Herzl, it becomes a utopian triumph; for Guttenberg, a deplorable failure. Notwithstanding their different assessments of the Zionist vision, both authors share certain antisemitic assumptions about the nature of “the Jew” (greedy, intolerant, vulgar), which are inscribed into the urban space. Herzl’s ideal Haifa is designed precisely to reform the diaspora Jew by introducing such modern urban measures that would render these detestable Jewish traits obsolete. Guttenberg’s disordered city, in comparison, reflects an inability to alter the Jewish character: no wonder that London, not Haifa, becomes the final destination of her “Modern Exodus.”

Cite: Elimelekh,Search for Identity in the Works of Samīr Naqqāsh

Elimelekh, Geula. “The Search for Identity in the Works of Samīr Naqqāsh.” Middle Eastern Studies 49.1 (2013): 63-75.

 

URL: http://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/routledg/mes/2013/00000049/00000001/art00005

 

Abstract

Samir Naqqash (1938-2004) was born in Baghdad and migrated to Israel in 1951. This article describes his divided soul, his attempts to adapt to a new homeland and his inability to develop a sense of belonging to Israeli society. The study is based on two short stories, ‘Willow Night’, which describes the collapse of an old world and the loss of Jewish values, and ‘Tantal’, a story of childhood. A major theme in Naqqash’s writings is the search for identity, a direct result of the author’s inability to detach himself from his previous identity as an Iraqi Jew. This theme is intimately connected to one of the most important motifs in his stories, rootlessness. The author feels torn from a previous perfect world, now lost – a world which he now adores and remembers with sentimental yearning. In his stories he depicts a number of characters whose emigration to Israel induced a profound shock in them, which eventually led to their mental and physical downfall.