Page 69 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 16

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I S R A E L I L I T E R A T U R E I N
E N G L I S H G A R B
By
J
acob
K
a bako ff
) UR1NG the first decade of Israeli statehood greater impetus
L>'than ever before was given to translation from Hebrew
letters. During this period some of Israel’s creative literary
spirits were introduced to the English-reading public for the
first time. A number of significant books were made available
not only in Israel but also through publishers in America and
England. By now it has become amply evident that good literary
works from Israel are perhaps the most effective means of pro-
paganda and education.
In some measure the modest accomplishments of the past
decade represent a breakthrough for Israeli letters. Heretofore
such translations as appeared were issued chiefly under Zionist
institutional auspices. The Israeli literary product was limited
for the most part to those Zionist circles which were already in
contact with the land. The publication, however, of Israeli
works in translation by private publishers has opened up a new
field for this literature and has tapped a new reading public.
It is difficult to draw a clear line of demarcation between
Hebrew literature generally and Israeli literature as such. After
all, Hebrew literature preceded the State of Israel, and Hebrew
writers were creating on Palestinian themes long before the
dream of statehood became a reality. For the purpose of this
article we shall consider chiefly Hebrew authors of the post-
Bialik period. We shall, however, also include some writers of
the Bialik period who wrote about the land.
In Volume 8 of the
Jewish Book Annual
(1949-1950), Maurice
T. Galpert published a survey entitled “Modern Hebrew Litera-
ture in English Translation,” in which he dealt with the writings
of our Hebrew authors available up to that time. I shall evaluate
this field further with special emphasis on the Israeli output,
and shall point to the authors and areas of this literature that
still await translation. It stands to reason that more volumes and
studies, such as Itzhak Ben-Zvi’s
The Exi led and the Redeemed
and Joseph Klausner’s works on Christianity and on Messianism,
will continue to find their way into the book market. Our
concern here, however, will be with
belles-lettres
.
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