Page 75 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 16

Basic HTML Version

a b ak o f f
— I
srael i
i n
ngl i sh
Anthologies and Short Stories
Of the various types of literature being produced in Israel,
the short story form is best represented in translation. This
is due to the fact that a number of excellent collections have
culled selections from this branch of writing and that various
anthologies have sought this type of material.
Mention has already been made of the collection
Palest ine
(1942), selected and translated by I. M. Lask. This
volume, which presented for the first time an interesting
panorama of Palestinian life and which contains a dozen stories,
deserves to be wider known. The more recent
Tehi l la and Other
Israeli Tales
(1956) has met with widespread critical acclaim. It
should be noted that the book was prepared with the assistance
of a committee of Israeli writers, established by the Jewish Agency
and headed by the late Yitzhak Shenhar. The favorable response
elicited by the book should serve as a stimulus for further efforts
to bring to English readers not only the work of the veteran
writers but also of the younger ones.
Reference has been made above to the most recent addition
to short story collections,
A Whole Loaf
(1957), edited by Sholom
J. Kahn, the American-born member of the English faculty of
the Hebrew University. The main contribution of this collec-
tion, subtitled
Stories from Israel,
consists in bringing to the
fore the work of several members of the younger guard of con-
temporary writers. Side by side with Smilansky, Agnon and
Hazaz, we find the war stories of S. Yizhar and Nathan Shaham
and the sensitive pieces of Aaron Meged, Moshe Shamir, Binyamin
Tammuz and others. Biographical and critical notes by the
editor serve to introduce the material to the reader.
The fifteen stories in the volume have been chosen primarily
for their “literary value and universal human interest” rather
than for their specific Israeli content. Thus, many aspects of
present-day Israel which might have been reflected here have
gone untouched. The War and the kibbutz figure in a number
of the stories, but by and large the emphasis of the authors is
on character portrayal.
In compiling this volume Kahn has leaned heavily on I. M.
Lask, five of whose renditions appear here. The book also
presents, however, the efforts of nine additional translators, many
of whom are new to״the field. The editor himself has translated
a Yemenite story by Hazaz, and in order to transmit the flavor
of the Yemenite speech he has utilized the Negro dialect. Whether
the translation has achieved the desired effect, however, is
As is pointed out in the editor’s introduction, only a fragment
of the Israeli short story output is incorporated here. We need
additional volumes whose short stories will be so chosen as to