Hebrew Literature: Enlightenment and Modernity

Hebrew Literature: Enlightenment and Modernity

Rabbinical literature lived on in all its branches, supplemented by polemical writings on inner-Jewish. Party disputes and the science of Judaism, which strives for objectivity. The fiction in “classical” Biblical Hebrew aimed at by the Berlin Enlightenment (M. Mendelssohn, H. Wessely) did not arise in the soon-to-be-assimilated Western Jewry, but in the Eastern European Jewish Enlightenment (Haskala). In the wake of the European nation-state movement and socialism, the critical examination of the Jewish way of life there in society and religion began in Russia and Poland. A. Mapu wrote the first historical novel (»Zionsliebe«, 1853) in Hebrew, in which he combined social criticism with reference to the Zionist renewal of the Jewish people. Mendele Moicher Sforim, who, along with J. L. Perez and Scholem Alejchem, is also one of the classics of Yiddish literature, helped realism to break through as an artistic principle in Hebrew literature. P. Smolenskin advocated Jewish nationalism as a publicist. With the waves of immigration from Eastern Europe to Palestine, but also to England, the literature of the labor movement emerged with critics like J. C. Brenner, thinkers like A. D. Gordon and poets like the poet Rachel. Achad Haam, C. N. Bialik and S. Tschernichowsky, along with S. Schneur, were the main representatives of Hebrew poetry in their time, leading theway in the bourgeois direction of intellectual or cultural Zionism. Leading lyric poets during the British Mandate for Palestine were A. Schlonski, N. Alterman, U. Z. Greenberg and Leah Goldberg.

According to programingplease, the establishment of the State of Israel (1948) was followed by a rapid development of the language and thus a change in literature, partly due to the changed life situation. The earlier strong influence of German, French, English and Russian literature, the translation of which into Hebrew was an important concern of the Hebrew writers, is declining sharply. The most outstanding representatives of the “Generation of the War of Independence” (“Palmach” generation) who are still active today (or until a few years ago), to whom the authors who began to publish as early as the 1940s, are A. Megged, M. Shamir, S. Jishar, J. Amichai i.a. They are dominated by “classical” topics such as the tensions between Israel and the Diaspora or Israeli and Yiddish culture as well as typically Jewish or Zionist fates, spread out in historical novels that often span long periods of time. Modern romantic techniques are combined in the work of S. J. Agnon with timeless Jewish motifs. However, he was just as little educational as C. Hazaz, an important narrator of the Yemeni and Kabbalah-related world.

The Hebrew drama was initially in Israel BC. a. turned to biblical and historical subjects; it was not until late that it began to grapple more and more with the political and social world of the present. Main representatives are strongly influenced by Freud and the theater of the absurd embossed N. Aloni, the S. Beckett mentally related H. Levin, who granted broad space and the political satire, J. Sobol, who is particularly concerned with the problem of anti-Semitism from deals with Jewish self-hatred up to and including the Holocaust, and Edna Mazya (* 1949), who has established herself as an internationally known screenwriter and playwright, among others. with the rape drama »The Swing« (1993; German).

Get a lot of attention today. a. nor the members of the »generation of the state«, that is, those whose first works appeared from the late 1950s to the 1970s. They are AB Jehoshua , A. Oz , A. Appelfeld, Y. Kaniuk , Y. Shabtai and Y. Kenaz in whose work the deep rift that has arisen in Israeli society since the Six Day War (1967) and the opposing assessment of its consequences is reflected. In novels one finds both the figure of the one who is inspired by national-religious zeal and wants to settle the occupied territories with Jews, as well as that of the disappointed emigrant who turns his back on Israel. The range of cultures that meet in Israel can be measured by contrasting the German-Jewish immigrants portrayed by Y. Hoffmann with the ultra-orthodox from the short stories by Hanna Bat-Schachar (* 1944). Or by adding to the throaty accent of the characters in the novel by E. Amir , Sami Michael (* 1926) and Albert Souissa (* 1959) “listens”. The latter are among the still comparatively few Hebrew authors whose family and cultural roots are not to be found in Europe but in the Orient.

Although Y. Hoffmann was born in 1937, in terms of style, Y. Hoffmann already belongs to a current of the next generation (Yuval Schimoni, * 1955; Orly Castel-Bloom) that has turned away from traditional narrative styles and turned to more experimental prose. Another typical feature of many younger authors is the treatment of topics (e.g. the modern city) that are neither specifically Israeli nor Jewish. This tendency stands out. a. from a number of young authors who reflect the attitude towards life of their generation; The writer and film director E. Keret and the screenwriter and novelist Benni Barbasch (* 1967). Members of social minorities also increasingly appear in new novels; Klil Zisapel (* 1976) addresses homosexuality and AIDS in her books.

In comparison, the literary work of an intermediate generation, among others. Savyon Liebrecht , Meir Shalev (* 1948) and D. Grossman belong, rather conservative and focused on typically Israeli topics. The strong increase in female voices is noticeable already in this phase of Hebrew literature; Even the international trend towards a female variant of the crime novel has not passed Israel by (Shulamith Lapid, Batya Gur).

With an ever increasing focus on the private, the concrete and thus generally human, Israeli literature is still to an above-average degree “political”. the fact shows that authors of all “generations” (e.g. A. Oz, D. Grossman) also publish collections of essays on political issues. In literature for children and adolescents (A. Oz; U. Orlev ; Ruth Almog, * 1936), the history or the relationships between Jews and non-Jews are reflected in a didactic and purely literary way on the basis of personal childhood experiences. Events such as the Lebanon War 1982/83, the Palestinian Intifada against the Israeli occupation and the Gulf War in 1991 were particularly reflected in the poetry; in addition to established names such as J. Amichai, N. Zach, Dahlia Ravikovitch (* 1936, † 2005) and others. younger authors also spoke up here, e. B. Yitzhak Laor (* 1948). In this area too, in addition to traditional topics and writing styles, a tendency towards linguistic experimentation can be observed (e.g. Maja Bejerano, * 1949). Some Israeli Arabs (A. Shammas ; Naim Arajdi, * 1950) dared to perform a linguistic-cultural and political balancing act, not only publishing in their mother tongue, Arabic, but also being recognized by the Jewish public as Hebrew authors.

Kishon was an exception in recent Hebrew literature. His satires on everyday Jewish-Israeli life achieved great popularity from the 1970s, including in Germany, so that E. Kishon became the most internationally successful Hebrew author in recent decades.

So far, one Hebrew writer has received the Nobel Prize for Literature: S. J. Agnon (1966).

Hebrew Literature - Enlightenment and Modernity