With Both Feet on the Clouds: Fantasy in Israeli Literature

With Both Feet on the Clouds: Fantasy in Israeli Literature

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Edited by Elana Gomel, Rani Graff & Danielle Gurevitch

Series: Israel: Society, Culture, and History
ISBN: 9781936235834 (hardcover)
Pages: 312 pp.
Publication Date: February 2013

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Why do Israelis dislike fantasy? Put so bluntly, the question appears frivolous. But in fact, it goes to the deepest sources of Israeli historical identity and literary tradition. Uniquely among developed nations, Israel’s origin is in a utopian novel, Theodor Herzl’s Altneuland (1902), which predicted the future Jewish state. The Jewish writing in the Diaspora has always tended toward the fantastic, the mystical, and the magical. And yet, from its very inception, Israeli literature has been stubbornly realistic. The present volume challenges this stance. Originally published in Hebrew in 2009, it is the first serious, wide-ranging and theoretically sophisticated exploration of fantasy in Israeli literature and culture. Its contributors jointly attempt to contest the question posed at the beginning: why do Israelis, living in a country whose very existence is predicated on the fulfillment of a utopian dream, distrust fantasy?


Elana Gomel (PhD Tel-Aviv University) is currently a senior lecturer and graduate advisor at the Department of English at Tel-Aviv University and is the author of numerous articles and four books, the most recent of which is Postmodern Science Fiction and Temporal Imagination (2010).

Rani Graff is the founder and CEO of Graff Publishing, Israel’s only publisher specifically devoted to Hebrew-language science fiction and fantasy.

Danielle Gurevitch (PhD Bar-Ilan University) is an ethnologist who specializes in fantasy fiction and myth, folk and traditional narratives in medieval England and France, and the neo-medievalist approach to the growing popularity of Medieval literately sources and aspiration. She is the associate dean of the Faculty of Humanities, Bar-Ilan University, Israel.


From the Talmudic sages to Bashevis-Singer, from medieval story-tellers to young contemporary Israeli writers, Jewish fantasy has been a treasure trove of the imagination, at least on a par with Greek and Norse mythologies. Yet unlike them, it has only rarely reveived scholarly attention. That is why this volume is so badly needed, and so timely, as interest in fantasy is becoming more intense worldwide.
— Emanuel Lottem, co-founder and first chairperson, Israeli Society for Science Fiction and Fantasy

Table of Contents

Acknowledgements
Introduction


I. DEFINITIONS AND DEBATE
Section 1.1 Danielle Gurevitch, What Is Fantasy?
Section 1.2 Elana Gomel, What Is Reality?
Section 1.3 Gail Hareven, What Is Unimaginable?
II. REALISTIC FANTASY AND FANTASTIC REALISM IN CONTEMPORARY ISRAELI LITERATURE
Section 2.1 Danielle Gurevitch,‘May He Come in Haste’: Urban Fantasy in Soothsayer by Asaf Ashery
Section 2.2. Orley Marron, Etgar Keret’s Fantastic Reality
Section 2.3 Ruby Newman, Postmodern Jewish Superstition in David Grossman’s To the End of the Land
III. VISIONS OF HEAVEN AND HELL: THEATER, CINEMA AND CHILDREN’S LITERATURE
Section 3.1. Eitan Bar-Yosef, Dybbuk, Husband, Home: Shmuel Hasfari and the Fantastic Tradition in Israeli Theatre
Section 3.2. Shmulik Duvdevani, Magical Realism in Israeli Cinema
Section 3.3 Noa Manheim, The Grand Old Witch of Dreams
IV. DIASPORA DREAMS: CULTURAL ROOTS OF JEWISH/ISRAELI FANTASY
Section 4.1 Elana Gomel, The Man from the Yellow Star
Section 4.2. Ioram Melcer, Why Doesn’t It Rain Fish Here?
Section 4.3. Sahara Blau, Kosher Vampires: Jews, Vampires and Prejudice
V. “Messiah Does Not Call Back”: Fantasy in Jewish Sources and Ancient Jewish Literature
Section 5.1. Anat Aderet, Travel Literature: Itinerary of an Armchair Traveler’s Journey to Eretz Israel in a Seventeenth Century Yiddish Story
Section 5.2. Ido Peretz, Ghost Stories in Medieval Hebrew Folktales: The Case of Sefer Hasidim and Sipurei Ha-Ari
Section 5.3. Bilhah Rubinstein, A Terrible Fable and Enchanting Fiction: The Story of Josheph De-La Reina and its Reflections in Two Novels of Yhoshua Bar Yosef
Section 5.4. Dov Schwartz, The Borders of Messianic Imagination in Jewish Thinking

Appendices
List of Israeli Adult Fantasy and Science Fiction Published from 1948 to 2011
Contributors
Index