New Article: Wiseman, Eternal Peace, a Satire by S.Y. Agnon

Wiseman, Laura R. “Shelom ‘Olamim—Eternal Peace by S.Y. Agnon: Yishuv-Era Society on the Brink of Statehood .” Modern Judaism 36.2 (2016): 163-85.





This 1942 satire is set in the period of Israel’s emergent statehood. Agnon delivers a critique of pre-statehood society and leadership at the nadir of drought, wrapped up in self-importance and internal rifts over inconsequential matters while the very existence of the people is threatened from without. While there is room for historical or theoretical examinations of such a story, this article adopts a literary approach for its methodology. It employs textual analysis to highlight a cluster of literary devices including a leitmotif, reverberations of classical Hebrew texts, and exaggerations. Together they animate the scathing satire in this period piece. To deploy the irony in Shelom ‘Olamim–“Eternal Peace” Agnon installs each rhetorical device and echo in an inverted or perceptibly flawed fashion, and magnifies minutiae to hyperbolic proportions. In so doing he crafts a game of nahafokh-hu a topsy-turvy puzzle, making his medium the message. The puzzle and its pieces carry the storyteller’s caustic criticism of the inverted priorities and unwarranted hubris of the leaders of yishuv-era society on the brink of statehood. In contributing a thesis based on textual analysis, an allegorical translation of the ambiguous Hebrew title, and fresh translations of selected excerpts, this article offers English-readers access to the humor and irony embedded in Agnon’s multivalent Hebrew writing and word play.




New Book: Koren-Maimon, Caregivers-Patients Relationships in Agnon (in Hebrew)

Koren-Maimon, Yair. Caregivers-Patients Relationships in the Works of S. Y. Agnon. Tel Aviv: Resling, 2015 (in Hebrew).





Yair Koren-Maimon’s book offers a new interpretation of some of the most famous works of Shmuel Yosef Agnon (“Tehilla,” “The Doctor’s Divorce”, “In the Prime of Her Life”, “Forever”, “A Simple Story”, “beyond the walls”, etc.), with affinity to a psychoanalytic-hermeneutical technique which focuses on relationships of patients and caregivers. In other words, the literary works is examined here as a therapeutic experience in its various forms. The book situates Agnon’s writings in a psychoanalytic context, all in the spirit of the “Reader Response” school, as well as the influence of post-structuralism.

One thing unites all these disciplines, approaches and theorists in psychology – the attempt to portray a comprehensive picture of the hidden world of the human soul, for the study of human personality and behavior. This book refers to various aspects of psychology and focuses primarily in the areas of psychopathology and psychotherapy within their literary context. In the spirit of the “Reader Response” school, and in light of the deconstructionist approach, the reading proposed here will read the Agnonic text against itself, in order to expose the “textual unconscious” whose meanings are different from those made explicit. This deconstructionist reading seeks to expose the therapeutic story hidden between the lines of the overt literary text visible. Thus a new text is created, one that is a merger of the original literary composition and the manner of reading the text by the interpreter. Perhaps this is the main purpose of the interpretation of literature.


DR. YAIR KOREN-MAIMON works on the study of literature, psychology, gender, and film. He teaches at the Gordon College of Education, and is a District Inspector for Literature for the Israeli Ministry of Education. His articles have been published in various platforms in Israel and abroad..




New Article: Szobel, Prostitution, Power and Vulnerability in Early Twentieth-Century Hebrew Literature

Szobel, Ilana. “‘Lights in the Darkness’: Prostitution, Power and Vulnerability in Early Twentieth-Century Hebrew Literature.” Prooftexts 34.2 (2015): 170-206.





This article explores the juxtaposition of prostitution, masculinity, and nationalism in the works of Hebrew writers at the beginning of the twentieth century. By discussing the psycho-poetical elements that underlie David Vogel’s depiction of prostitution and the ideological elements in Gershon Shofman’s work, and by exposing their dialogue with Hayim Nahman Bialik, this project explores power, vulnerability, gender, sexuality, and nationalism in Hebrew literature of the first half of the twentieth century.

My study argues that the trope of the prostitute enables writers of early Hebrew literature to negotiate questions of strength and weakness in the Jewish world. Although Bialik’s option of sovereign masculinity became the norm for the Zionist discourse, Shofman, Vogel, Brenner, Reuveni and others expressed different perceptions of gender and power. Hence, in order to understand the intensity of the poetic, national, and gendered dilemmas and struggles of this generation, this study offers to listen not only to their concepts of revival, renewal and empowerment, but also to their expressions of weakness, frustration, loss, anger and aggression.



New Article: Ben-Yehuda, Between Bialik and Himself

Ben-Yehuda, Omri. “Between Bialik and Himself: Acting Hyperbole Out.” Jerusalem Studies in Hebrew Literature 27 (2014): 155ff (in Hebrew).



The article examines some of Bialik’s major narrative works – mainly Big Harry, Behind the Fence, In the City of Slaughter and A Fattened Bull and a Green Meal – through a careful close-reading that seeks to unpack major textual allusions between them. Using some of Bakhtin’s holistic concepts, which outline the relations of prose and ideology, the article explores Bialik’s poetics and defines him as a ‘hyperbolic storyteller’ who seeks expansion both in his phrases and in the world they depict. By using trauma theory, the article examines these textual links as repetitive acting out of events, both biographical and national.

בן-יהודה, עמרי. “היפרבולות והפגן: על כמה אלוזיות של ביאליק לעצמו”. מחקרי ירושלים בספרות עברית כז (2014): 155 ואילך.