Israel Literature Part II

By | December 22, 2021

Of Kianuk we should mention Ādām ben Chelev (1986, “Adam son of a dog”), the story of a Jewish actor forced to act as a personal clown for the commander of a Nazi extermination camp: in a macabre-grotesque atmosphere, through the progressive sinking of the protagonist in a resignation that soon becomes the apathetic indifference of the alienated, Kianuk offers a harrowing representation of the violent desecration of man carried out by other men.

Zichrōn dĕvārīm (1977, “Promemoria”) and Sōf dāvār (1984, “Conclusion”) by Shabtai are evidence of an authentic talent as a storyteller and artist.

The main characters of many novels of the Eighties are young people of the current generation, called to measure themselves with the problems of Israeli society today: it is in fact that they are now responsible for the country. The protagonists are often driven to suicide by problems of conscience linked to the current military situation; and in them not only an inner conflict is stirred, but also a conflict with the previous generation, which has detached itself from the past, from the paternal home, from the Diaspora.

This is the theme of the novel by Orpaz hā-῾Elem (1984, “The Young Man “), whose protagonist recalls the character of a previous book by Orpaz himself, Bayth lĕ-ādam eḥad (“A man’s house”); this is the theme that resurfaces in Bithō (“The daughter”) by Kianuk and in Qufsāh shēḥōrā (1987, “The black box”) by ῾Oz, and perhaps also in the work of Y. Qenaz Hitganevūth yĕḥīdīm (1987, “L ‘ infiltration of individuals “). For Israel 2013, please check

In the novel Ḥiyyūk ha-gēdī (1983, “The Smile of the Capricorn”), D. Grossman, perhaps the best known among the narrators of the last generation, induces his character ῾Uri to fail to protest suicide, very reminiscent of that the protagonist of Kianuk; and it will be a representative of the previous generation to pay with his life for the act that ῾Uri has done to protest against the horrors of the Israeli occupation. The novel by S. Luz Nafshō bĕ-chapō (1986, “A Life in Peril”) also deals with the suicide of a young man in the course of a military action.

The literature presents the image of a country that is going through a crisis and offers one of the most bitter views of the state of Israel, which undoubtedly reflects a tragic dimension that anguishes many Israelis today: the citizens more conscious, in fact, they warn that they are living in an upset reality, whose values ​​are subject to that process of corrosion that occurs in every society degraded by war.

It is above all poetry that determines the passage from the so-called ” literature of the we ”, which exalts the collective moments of the national awakening, to the ” literature of the self ”, in which the authors express above all the inner movements of the soul and intimate spiritual needs.

Among the poets deserve to be remembered: D. Pagis (1930-1986) who, still a child escaped from the Nazi extermination camps, only in his most recent works has addressed the theme of the Holocaust, albeit indirectly. A rigorously self-effacing author, Pagis expresses himself above all through images: among them, particularly pregnant that of Cain and Abel, now taken as a symbol of the strength of the victim in the face of that of the murderer, now an expression of pity for the killer same. The most significant collections are: Shĕ ῾ōn haṣēl (1959, “The shadow clock”), Shā hūth mĕ ‘uḥereth (1964, “Delayed delay”), Gilgūl (1970, “Metamorphosis”), Shĕnĕm ῾āsār pānīm (1981, “Twelve Faces”),(1982, “Synonyms”) and Mīḥūṣ la-shūrāh (1986, “Out of the ordinary”).

Singular for thematic originality and expressive modules is the lyric production of A. Ghilboa᾽ (b. 1917), Israel prize for literature, which reached the expression in Yiṣḥāq and in ha-Chōl hōlēch (1983, “Everything proceeds”) emotional more consonant with a harsh reality from a personal and national point of view.

The apparently simple lyrics of Zelda (1924-1984) – the most notable collection is Shĕ nīvdĕlū mi-chòl merḥāq (1984, “Isolated from all distance”) – are full of meaning and reflect a clear religious and universalistic vision of the world, free from illusions, focused on man and the problems of his existence, and aware of human suffering and pain in the world, which are accepted with resignation.

Another important figure is J. Wallach (1944-1985), defined as the “archetypal voice” of modern Hebrew poetry, author of the collections Shīrāh (1976, “Poetry”), ōr pĕre᾽ (1983, “Wild light”) and Ṣūrōth ( 1985, “Forme”, posthumously).

Ḥ. Gurī (b.1923), Israel prize for literature, is considered a representative of the generation of poets of the Palmàch, a literary current that takes its name from one of the most famous fighting brigades, famous not only for its heroic deeds, but also for its spiritual and cultural structure. Its production, defined as a “native poem”, is a happy combination of the biblical language with the daily and military one, a poem “whose roots are in the Bible and the corolla is in the present”. Among his works, an anthological collection of opera: Ḥeshbōn῾ · ōver 1945-1987 (1988, “Current account 1945-1987”).

Many other poets are valid voices of this synthetic panorama of Israeli poetry; among them we mention A. Eldan (b.1924), T. Rivner (b.1924), O. Rabin (b.1921), E. Biton (b.1942), blind singer of Jewish memories of the homeland, Morocco.

Someq (b. 1951), one of the best of the young contemporary poets, often takes inspiration from facts of everyday life, which are however raised to high levels of significance by intense metaphorical resonances (Asfalt, 1984, “Asphalt”; Goleh, 1976, “Exiled”). R. Harnik is the author of a collection of painful and moving poems dedicated to her fallen son in Lebanon: Mishirē har Herzl, Jerushalaim (1987, “Cemetery of Mount Herzl in Jerusalem”).

Israel Literature Part II