This book on culture and consciousness in history concerns the worldwide transformations of Jewish culture and society and the revival of the ancient Hebrew language following the waves of pogroms in Russia in 1881, when large numbers of Jews in Eastern and Central Europe redefined their identity as Jews in a new and baffling world. Reviews "With his customary versatility and lucidity Harshav has given us . . . a host of new and provocative insights into modern Jewish history. . . . This book is an outstanding attempt to juxtapose the revolution in Jewish life with that of the Hebrew language in such a way that each informs our understanding of the other." —Yosef Hayim Yerushalmi, Columbia...
"I know of no single book in any language which [conveys] such a richly textured profile of the nature and dynamics of both the Yiddish language and its literature. It is a remarkable feat of high popularization, written with great flair and without a hint of pedantry. . . . The book should be read by all who are interested in language."-Times Literary Supplement
This collection of essays, originally published at different times, presents a coherent, systematic, and comprehensive theory of the work of literature and its major aspects. The approach, which may be called "Constructive Poetics," does not assume that a work of literature is a text with fixed structures and meanings, but a text that invites the reader to evoke or project a network of interrelated constructs, complementary or contradictory as they may be. The work of literature is not just a narrative, as studies in narratology assume, but a text that projects a fictional world, or an Internal Field of Reference. Meanings in a text are presented through the evocation of "frames of reference...
This book is a collection of seminal essays on major aspects of Jewish culture: Yiddish and Hebrew literature, Europe, America and Israel, transformations of Jewish history, the Holocaust, and the formal traditions of Hebrew verse.
Marc Chagall (1887-1985) traversed a long route from a boy in the Jewish Pale of Settlement, to a commissar of art in revolutionary Russia, to the position of a world-famous French artist. This book presents for the first time a comprehensive collection of Chagall's public statements on art and culture. The documents and interviews shed light on his rich, versatile, and enigmatic art from within his own mental world. The book raises the problems of a multi-cultural artist with several intersecting identities and the tensions between modernist form and cultural representation in twentieth-century art. It reveals the travails and achievements of his life as a Jew in the twentieth century and his perennial concerns with Jewish identity and destiny, Yiddish literature, and the state of Israel. This collection includes annotations and introductions of the Chagall texts by the renowned scholar Benjamin Harshav that elucidate the texts and convey the changing cultural contexts of Chagall's life. Also featured is the translation by Benjamin and Barbara Harshav of the first book about Chagall's work, the 1918 Russian The Art of Marc Chagall.
"In this unparalleled study of the forms of Hebrew poetry, preeminent authority Benjamin Harshav examines Hebrew verse during three millennia of changing historical and cultural contexts. He takes us around the world of the Jewish diaspora, comparing the changes in Hebrew verse as it came into contact with the Canaanite, Greek, Arabic, Italian, German, Russian, Yiddish, and English poetic forms. Harshav explores the types and constraints of free rhythms, the meanings of sound patterns, the historical and linguistic frameworks that produced the first accentual iambs in English, German, Russian, and Hebrew, and the first discovery of these iambs in a Yiddish romance written in Venice in 1508/09. In each chapter, the author presents an innovative analytical theory on a particular poetic domain, drawing on his close study of thousands of Hebrew poems"--
Yehuda Amichai: A Life of Poetry 1948-1994 offers a comprehensive and timely evaluation of the body of work of one of our most valuable poets in any language. Employing the style and idiom of a post-Modernism--of a twentieth-century artist--and filtering it through the prism of his Israeli and Jewish sensibilities, Amichai's words ifs cosmopolitan, muscular, and ironic. Resounding with the exhilarating of the human encounters--it is brought into the sharper contrast by the ever-present precariousness of Israeli existence. The burden and legacy of this history, and its impact upon modern, secular society, places Amichai's work within a uniquely Israeli landscape--arid, verdant, cruel, and beautiful--while simultaneously transcending national and religious borders. Translated from the Hebrew by Benjamin and Barbara Harshav, this volume brings Amichai to his rightful place beside the leading poets of the twentieth century.