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 Article: Schirrmeister, A Contiguous Reading of Two Anti-War Novels by Avigdor Hameiri and M. Y. Ben-Gavriêl

Schirrmeister, Sebastian. “Two Roads to the Land: A Contiguous Reading of Two Anti-War Novels by Avigdor Hameiri and M. Y. Ben-Gavriêl”. Naharaim 9.1-2 (2015): 108-27.

 

URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1515/naha-2015-0004

Abstract

Drawing on Dan Miron’s concept of “literary contiguity,” this article arranges an encounter between two documentary novels about the experience of the First World War, both told from the perspective of a Jewish officer. Although rather different with regard to their place in the Modern Hebrew canon, the well-known novel The Great Madness (1929) by Avigdor Hameiri and the unknown novel Gold in the Streets (1946) by M. Y. Ben-Gavriêl reveal numerous topical and aesthetic intersections when read alongside each other. The joint analysis shows that besides their pacifism and general criticism of the logic of the nation-state, both novels share a common geographical and ideological trajectory. Their interpretation of the events depicted during the “Great War” envisages the Land of Israel as the ultimate destination of their protagonists.

 

 

 

New Article: Zakai, Literature, Ideology and Sexual Violence in the Writing of Rivka Alper

Zakai, Orian. “A Uniform of a Writer: Literature, Ideology and Sexual Violence in the Writing of Rivka Alper.” Prooftexts 34.2 (2015): 232-70.

 

URL: https://muse.jhu.edu/journals/prooftexts/v034/34.2.zakai.html

 

Abstract

This essay explores the politics of women’s writing in the Zionist yishuv by examining the literary career of Rivka Alper, whose work features a difficult clash between a “feminine” narrative of sexual trauma and Zionist ideology. I discuss Alper’s literary trajectory from her first novel, Pirpurey mahapekha, a coming-of-age story of a young woman, which foregrounds themes of sexual trauma and gendered violence, to her second project, Ha-mitnaḥalim ba-har, a biography of a Zionist role model, one of the women founders of the colony of Motza. Alper’s transition from “personal” fiction to ideological literature is part of a process of an arduous self-fashioning toward carving a place for herself, albeit marginal, in the Zionist republic of letters. Her process demonstrates the predicament of writing as a woman in a Zionist cultural space that marks writing as an emasculating practice, but exclusively assigns male writers the role of national subjects. In such a space, I argue, transitioning to marginal genres in order to write for the collective emerges as a privileged alternative for an aspiring woman writer. And yet, as contents from Alper’s fictional writing infiltrate her biographic writing, the literariness of her “less literary” text exposes the exclusions that lie at the heart of the Zionist ideological project, and, in turn, reinscribes “the feminine” as a composite marker of these exclusions back into the Zionist text.

 

 

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.

 

URL: https://muse.jhu.edu/journals/prooftexts/v034/34.2.szobel.html

 

Abstract

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: Hollander, Zionism, Masculinity, and Sexuality in Reuveni’s ‘Ad Yerushalayim

Hollander, Philip. “Rereading ‘Decadent’ Palestinian Hebrew Literature: The Intersection of Zionism, Masculinity, and Sexuality in Aharon Reuveni’s ‘Ad Yerushalayim.” AJS Review 39.1 (2015): 3-26.

 

URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0364009414000622

 

Abstract

This article asserts that politics motivated Aharon Reuveni to employ representations of psychic fragmentation and dysfunctional social institutions to portray Palestinian Jewish life in his novelistic trilogy ‘Ad Yerushalayim. These purportedly decadent representations helped him foreground individual and collective flaws he saw limiting the early twentieth-century Palestinian Jewish community’s development and promote norms he saw as conducive to growth. Thus, as examination of the trilogy’s central male figures demonstrates, Reuveni advances a Zionist masculinity grounded in introspectiveness and ongoing commitment to the achievement of communally shared goals. To further support this Zionist masculine form, the trilogy categorizes men who pursue homosocial ties with others who don’t maintain this masculinity as homosexuals. Thus gender and sexuality are used to coerce male readers into adopting specific behavioral norms. This attention to gender and sexuality’s role in early twentieth-century Palestinian Hebrew fiction offers a way to grasp its long-overlooked political character.