Page 70 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 16

Basic HTML Version

J
e w i s h
B
o o k
A
n n u a l
56
Zion Mot ifs
The Palestine ideal served as the main inspiration for our
Hebrew writers throughout the period of rebirth. After many
of our major authors settled in Palestine, their writing assumed
new vitality and many new facets were added to their creativity.
Thus, Shmuel Yosef Agnon, whose forte had been the inter-
pretation of the hasidic world of Galicia, gave us a novel of the
second aliyah and stories of Jerusalem life. Hayim Hazaz, who
had been immersed in the ferment of revolutionary Russia,
became our foremost interpreter of Yemenite life and folkways.
All our prose writers became imbued with the spirit of the
land, and in the period of Zionist realization the themes of
pioneering and attachment to the soil became basic to their
writing.
The poets, too, reacted vividly to the homeland. David Shi-
moni, Yaakov Fichman and Yehuda Karni became infatuated
with the new landscape. Uri Zvi Greenberg, Yitzhak Lamdan
and Avraham Shlonsky, the outstanding poetic figures of the
post-Bialik era, all joined in giving modern expression to age-old
Messianic hopes and dreams.
At the same time, a new school of indigenous Israeli writers
emerged. In the novel, short story and poem the new relation
between the individual and society has been explored. The
kibbutz and city life have been subjected to analysis and even
to criticism and satire. For the first time in our history there
grew up a war literature based on the struggle for independence
and on the heroic exploits of the Palmach. The various im-
migrant groups have begun to receive attention and to be given
artistic portrayal. The Bible, too, has come in for literary
reinterpretation, and not only the older writers but even some
of the younger ones have turned to historical themes.
While much remains to be done in the area of translation,
a sizable literature has already appeared. First mention should
go to the
Israel Argosy,
published since 1952 under the editorship
of I. Halevy-Levin and now in its fifth volume. Whereas the
first three numbers in this series appeared in paperback editions
in Israel and reached only a limited reading group in this
country, the last two volumes have been released here through
Thomas Yoseloff in hard cover editions. Similarly, few copies
of I. M. Lask’s anthology entitled
Palestine Stories
(Jerusalem,
Tarshish, 1942) reached these shores, but the recent collection
Tehi l la and Other Israeli Tales,
published as a Ram’s Horn Book
(N.Y., Abelard-Schuman, 1956), elicited a far wider response.
Early Translation Efforts
Before reviewing the various samples of Israeli literature in
English translation, a word should be said concerning the initial
efforts in this field. Perhaps the most outstanding contribution