New Article: Harris, The Flourishing of Hebrew Modernism

Harris, Rachel S. “Cosmopolitan, Diasporic and Transnational: The Flourishing of Hebrew Modernism.” Modernism / Modernity 21.1 (2014): 361-68.





Review article of:

  • Literary Passports: The Making of Modernist Hebrew Fiction in Europe. Shachar M. Pinsker. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2010. Pp. xiv + . $60.00 (cloth).
  • Diasporic Modernisms: Hebrew & Yiddish Literature in the Twentieth Century. Allison Schachter. New York: Oxford University Press, 2012. Pp. x + . $35.00 (cloth).
  • Reconfiguring Surrealism in Modern Hebrew Literature: Menashe Levin, Yitzhak Oren and Yitzhak Orpaz. Giulia Miller. London: Vallentine Mitchell Publishers, 2013. Pp. $84.95 (cloth).


All three scholars demonstrate that Hebrew modernist fiction, no matter where it was being written, shared some common literary and cultural ideals. The writers “advocated the departure from a socially and historically grounded mimesis towards a portrayal of the ‘hidden’ realities of human existence, to engage with universal (and modernist) concerns such as sexuality, religiosity, existential angst and related themes.” Experimentation in Hebrew literature was not simply tied up with Zionism and the creation of a national homeland, but also reflected a broader and more complex history that valued the power of language to articulate a modern, cosmopolitan Jewish experience. By contextualizing Hebrew modernist writing within European, American and Native American cultural history, and tracing the development of modernism in Israel, wherein it was vastly neglected, all three works raise new questions about the role of place, thought and language in the life of the movement.