The two giants of Jewish literature come together for a wide-ranging discussion centered around his new book on the seminal Hebrew writers of modernity.
In his fiction, and especially in the novel Only Yesterday, S.Y. Agnon casts an ironic, unfooled eye on the inner lives of his fellow Jews and their lopsided bargains with modernity.
Raḥel will be read, sung, and recited long after many excellent Hebrew poets of her age, men and women alike, have been confined within classroom walls.
Why is the writing of this great modern Hebrew novelist so dark and anguished, and why does so much of it take such a ferociously negative view of Jews?
Ḥayyim Naḥman Bialik was called upon by his contemporaries to play the role of a prophet. By consenting, he believed he had betrayed both his talent and his true calling.
In December 1903, Ḥayyim Naḥman Bialik burst to fame and notoriety in a storm of rage at Jewish passivity; by 1910, his poetic career had stalled.
Why did the great Micha Yosef Berdichevsky, who called on Jews to take personal responsibility for Zionism, never settle in or even visit Palestine?
He would likely share more with young men sporting knitted kippot and young women in long skirts than with any other sizable group on the Israeli scene.
The unresolved rivalry between the great Zionist thinker and the great Zionist strategist still shapes the contending outlooks of many 21st-century Jews.
Elsewhere than Zion, said the greatest Hebrew poet of the 19th century—until he changed his mind, paving the way for others.
Did Jews recognizably still exist as a people in the late 19th century? Many questioned it. In his packed and vibrant fiction, the great Peretz Smolenskin proved them wrong.
The second Hebrew novelist was the first to imagine the pageantry and passion of life in ancient Israel—and thereby excited the dreams of emergent Zionists.
In 1819, Joseph Perl published Hebrew literature’s first novel. A riotous satire of the ḥasidic movement, it remains largely and unjustly forgotten.