With this essay, we inaugurate a series of fresh looks by Hillel Halkin at Zionist or proto-Zionist writers and intellectuals of the 19th and early 20th centuries. Some are well known. Others, like the Galician Jewish writer Joseph Perl, deserve to be.
Sex, Magic, Bigotry, Corruption—and the First Hebrew Novel
In 1819, Joseph Perl published Hebrew literature’s first novel. A riotous satire of the ḥasidic movement, it remains largely and unjustly forgotten.