Page 119 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 43

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A Decade of Research on
Medieval Hebrew Literature
O u r s u r v e y s e e k s
to describe the new developments in the study
of Medieval Hebrew Literature especially during the last decade,
which has proved to be the most productive since the beginnings
of this research in the 19th century in the days of Leopold Zunz.
During the last decade scholars have concentrated not only on
the editing of texts and their preparation for publication, but also
on research in medieval poetry, prose and translations. Above all,
the critical analysis of Medieval Hebrew Literature has emerged
as a vital branch of Hebrew literary study.
Since the discovery of the Cairo Genizah in 1896, we have been
enriched by many finds, and the leading libraries and manuscript
depositories have made available their resources to a new genera­
tion of researchers. An exception has been Soviet Russia which
stubbornly refuses to allow Hebrew scholars to consult the vast
holdings of the Guenzberg collection in Moscow and of the
Antonin and Firkowitz collections in Leningrad. Various centers
of research have been established which have perfected new
methods and have introduced many innovations in furthering
the “ingathering” of Medieval Hebrew sources.
There has gradually been revealed a wonderful panorama of
Hebrew literary creativity that has never ceased and that has con­
tinued to find expression throughout the ages: in Palestine, as
well as in Babylon, Italy, Syria, North Africa, the Balkans,
Germany, Holland, and especially in both Moslem and Christian
Spain. Entire groups of excellent poets, whose religious and secu­
lar works responded to the needs of their times, have been
rediscovered and their writings are now available to the reader.
There have been brought to light and explicated theoretical
works on poetry and prose writing, story collections and
maqamas in both translation and the original, complete mahzor