Page 63 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 48

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Two Homelands: Biradicalism in
Modern Hebrew Poetry
m o d e r n
e b r e w
p o e t r y
is constructed on fundamental ele­
ments o f tension which reflect certain dilemmas that have u n ­
derscored Israeli society from the start. These are not so much
the overt sociopolitical stresses, bu t internal, individual stresses
arising from the specific circumstances o f Jewish history. Many
o f these have been widely discussed in the context o f literary
criticism. However, there has been little emphasis on the ph e ­
nomenon tha t the poet and critic Itam ar Yaoz-Kest has desig­
biradicalism, the notion o f dual homelands
and landscapes which is so emphatic a feature o f early Israeli
cu l tu re1 and which to a large extent distinguishes the Jewish
condition. Yaoz-Kest’s term indicates the peculiarity o f belong­
ing to more than one culture, in this case, an individual’s con­
scious identification with Jewish history and tradition together
with an unconscious bond to the culture o f his/her land o f o r­
igin. The tension rests in the continual struggle to strengthen
the roots within the “h e re” while still conform ing in a multitude
o f existential ways to the world o f “the re .” T h e separation from
the homeland for whatever reason, whether it be due to the
positive will o f the p ioneer o r an escape from potential danger,
induces a pa ttern o f homesickness, for which the German term,
is probably more accurate. Yet the individual perception
o f exile transcends the
o f being elsewhere, to become a
source o f the fundamen tal dialectic o f Jewish literature: the
o f being elsewhere:
After quoting Charles Peguy’s profound remark on the Jews:
“Being elsewhere, the great vice o f this race, the great secret
1. Yaoz-Kest, Itamar,
Le-Havayat ha-Dushorshiut ba-Sifrut ha-Yisraelit.
Yahid, 1979.