Hebrew Literature and the 1948 War

Essays on Philology and Responsibility

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Hebrew Literature and the 1948 War: Essays on Philology and Responsibility is the first book-length study that examines the conspicuous absence of the Palestinian Nakba in modern Hebrew literature. Through a rigorous reading of canonical Hebrew literary texts, the author addresses the general failure of Hebrew literature to take responsibility for the Nakba. The book illustrates how the language of modern Hebrew poetry and fiction reflects symptoms of Israeli national violence, in which the literary language produces a picture of Palestine as an arena where the violent clash between the perpetrators and the victims takes place. In doing so, the author develops a new and critical paradigm for reflecting on the moral responsibility of literature and the ethics of reading. The book includes close readings of the works of Avot Yeshurun, S. Yizhar, Nathan Alterman, Yehuda Amichai, Yitzhak Laor, and Amos Oz, among others.

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Biographical Note

Hannan Heveris Jacob and Hilda Blaustein Professor of Hebrew Language and Literature and Comparative Literature at Yale University and Emeritus Professor at the Hebrew University. He teaches in the Comparative Literature Department at Yale and is affiliated with the Program of Judaic Studies. He has published extensively on Modern Hebrew Literature and Culture and Theory of Literature and Culture from political, post-national and post-colonial perspectives. Among his most recent books are Nativism, Zionism and Beyond: three Essays on Nativist Hebrew Poetry (2014), To Inherent the Land, To Conquer the Space: The Birth of Hebrew Poetry in Eretz Yisrael (2015), and Suddenly the Sight of War: Nationalism and Violence in the Hebrew Poetry of the 1940s (2016), His most recent book is We are Broken Rhymes, The Politics of Trauma in Israeli Literature (2017).

Table of contents

Introduction
1 After 1948: the Names of the Israeli Sovereignty
2 “Tell It Not in Gath”: the Palestinian Nakba in Hebrew Poetry 1948–1958
3 “The Two Gaze Directly into One Another’s Face”: Avot Yeshurun between the Nakba and the Shoah—
4 The Crisis of Responsibility in S. Yizhar’s The Prisoner
5 “Expulsions Never Solve Anything”: on S. Yizhar’s Khirbet Khizeh
6 Nathan Alterman’s The Seventh Column and the 1948 War
7 From Revenge to Empathy: Abba Kovner from Ḥurben to Palestinian Destruction
8 Irony, Revenge, and the Nakba in Yehuda Amichai’s Early Work
9 “Yaffo City of Its Body Haunts Krasnystaw-Town Foreseeing of Its Flesh”: Avot Yeshurun and Yitzhak Laor during the First Lebanon War
10 Betrayal and Revenge in Amos Oz’s Judas
Works Cited Index

Readership

Academics in Literature and Hebrew Literature, Political Science, Middle East History, Theory of Literature, Ethics.

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