Hebrew Classics: A Journey Through Israel's Timeless Fiction and Poetry

Hebrew Classics: A Journey Through Israel's Timeless Fiction and Poetry


Dvir Abramovich

Series: Israel: Society, Culture, and History
ISBN: 9781936235940 (hardcover)
Pages: 162 pp.
Publication Date: July 2012

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In this book, Dvir Abramovich brings together a batch of timeless classical Hebrew novels, short stories, and poems, and furnishes readers with commentaries and critical readings of each landmark work. The selection of seminal texts include masterpieces from Yehuda Amichai, Haim Gouri, Amos Oz, Dvorah Baron, Shaul Tchernichovsky, Chaim Nachman Bialik, Hanoch Bartov, Shulamit Hareven and Aharon Megged. The collection will prove exceptionally useful for any teacher or lecturer who wishes to introduce their students to the treasures of contemporary Israeli fiction and are searching for reflective analyses and searching insights. Guaranteed to ignite discussion and debate, this informative and entertaining volume, written in an accessible and lively style, will appeal to a general and academic audience and will tempt readers to read or re-read these great works.

Dvir Abramovich (PhD University of Melbourne) is director of the University of Melbourne's Centre for Jewish History and Culture and a senior lecturer in Hebrew and Jewish studies. He was editor of the Australian Journal of Jewish Studies for eight years and president of the Australian Association of Jewish Studies from 2006 to 2010. He has published widely in the area of Israeli and Jewish literature and is co-editor of the book Testifying to the Holocaust (2008) and author of Back to the Future: Israeli Literature of the 1980s and 1990s (2010).

Abramovich has done a scrupulous job in scrutinizing these key texts of contemporary Hebrew fiction. The care with which he sets them in their historical and cultural contexts should be instructive for all readers interested in Israel and its predicaments.
— Robert Alter, Class of 1937 Professor of Hebrew and Comparative Literature, the University of California at Berkeley
The next best thing to reading modern Hebrew literature in the original is getting to know it through the eyes of a lover who is willing to share his passion. In Hebrew Classics: A Journey Through Israel’s Timeless Fiction and Poetry, Dvir Abramovich invites us to get to know its major figures and his introductions to their work make us eager to know them better. A true scholar can do no better.
— Ruth Wisse, Martin Peretz Professor of Yiddish Literature and Professor of Comparative Literature, Harvard University
In Hebrew Classics: A Journey Through Israel’s Timeless Fiction and Poetry, Dvir Abramovich offers us an intimate and delightful tour through the pastures of Hebrew literature. A refreshing meeting awaits us with writers of various generations who had grown up in separate landscapes and some in the midst of diverse languages. . . . One of the unique characteristics of the book is the choice of literary works that it deals with, free of the bonds of genre definitions. We are offered ‘delectable meals’ that include interpretive studies of poems and stories of various kinds. The common denominator for this selection is the presentation of texts as junctions of flavour and passion within the rich and fascinating history of modern Hebrew literature. This provides the reader with the ability to experience a bird’s eye view of these creative works. This book is a tribute to Hebrew literature, written with love and with the wish to share this love. This is obvious both from the detailed and sensitive studies, and from the commendable descriptive, festive and elegant language.
— Yigal Schwartz, Professor of Hebrew Literature and Head of Heksherim: The Research Center for Jewish and Israel Culture, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev

Table of Contents


Chapter I
An Idyll of Rural Jewish Life
Shaul Tchernichovsky’s “Boiled Dumplings”
Chapter II
Human Compassion as a Substitute for Divine Protection
Yehuda Amichai’s “God Has Mercy on Kindergarten Children”
Chapter III
Berating an Indifferent God
Hayyim Nahman Bialik’s “On the Slaughter” 
Chapter IV
Living in the Aftermath of the Holocaust Nightmare
Shulamith Hareven’s "Twilight," "Loneliness," and "The Witness" 
Chapter V
The Damaged Personhood of Holocaust Survivors
Haim Gouri’s The Chocolate Deal
Chapter VI
Confronting the Incomprehensible Reality of the Holocaust Universe
Hanoch Bartov’s The Brigade
Chapter VII
A Clash of Generations
Aharon Megged’s "The Name"
Chapter VIII
The Kibbutz Girl, the Arab, and the Snake, or, just a modern version of the Garden of Eden
Amos Oz's "Nomad and viper" 
Chapter IX
And the Righteous Shall be Rewarded
Dvorah Baron’s “Sunbeams”