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Prosaic Conditions

Heinrich Heine and the Spaces of Zionist Literature

Na'ama Rokem

Publication Year: 2013

In her penetrating new study, Na’ama Rokem observes that prose writing—more than poetry, drama, or other genres—came to signify a historic rift that resulted in loss and disenchantment. In Prosaic Conditions, Rokem treats prose as a signifying practice—that is, a practice that creates meaning. During the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, prose emerges in competition with other existing practices, specifically, the practice of performance. Using Zionist literature as a test case, Rokem examines the ways in which Zionist authors put prose to use, both as a concept and as a literary mode. Writing prose enables these authors to grapple with historical, political, and spatial transformations and to understand the interrelatedness of all of these changes.

Published by: Northwestern University Press


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pp. 1-1


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pp. 2-5


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pp. 6-7

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pp. vii-viii

Writing this book has been a formative experience, and I am deeply thankful to the teachers, colleagues, and friends who were part of it. My dissertation committee at Stanford University provided much-needed fuel in the form of both warmth and skepticism. Amir Eshel has always been willing to put things in perspective and to listen when I’ve needed a sympathetic ...

List of Abbreviations

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pp. ix-ix

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pp. xi-xxi

The city of Berlin houses two memorials within short walking distance from one another that bear the name of Heinrich Heine, two landmarks of the cultural politics of public memory in postwar Germany and its transformations over time. The first is designated explicitly as a Heine memorial. Erected in 1966 in East Berlin by the German Democratic ...

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Chapter One. Prose Regnant: World, State, and Subject in Hegel’s Lectures on Aesthetics

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pp. 3-19

As the reader of Hegel’s lectures on aesthetics soon notes, the figurative use of the terms “prose” and “prosaic” is a recurring leitmotiv in this text. Prose plays a crucial role in Hegel’s understanding of art, showing up at each step along the way as art’s other and bringing together different, seemingly contradictory aspects of what lies beyond art: the abstract ...

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Chapter Two. Heinrich Heine, Explorer of the Current Prosaic Condition

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pp. 20-46

Perhaps no other author in the early nineteenth century struggled so fiercely and so revealingly with what Hegel described as the “current prosaic conditions” as Heinrich Heine. After achieving literary fame in his twenties with both the romantic poetry of his ...

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Chapter Three. Mediated Situatedness in the Reception of Heinrich Heine

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pp. 47-72

The relation of medium to space, and the location of the performing body within that matrix, has profound poetic and political implications, structuring Heine’s perception of his writing and of its place in the world. Heine’s writing is always already to a striking ...

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Chapter Four. Theodor Herzl’s Technocratic World-Making in Prose

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pp. 73-94

The highway going north from Tel Aviv passes through the affluent suburb of Herzliya, named after Theodor Herzl, the “visionary of the Jewish state.” Herzl’s figure, carved in thin wood, towers over the highway, as if inspecting the materialization of the detailed plans ...

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Chapter Five. Haim Nahman Bialik’s Icy River of Prose

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pp. 95-118

Herzl’s political, territorial Zionism is commonly contrasted with the cultural branch of the movement, represented most prominently by the thinker and ideologue Ahad Ha’am (Asher Ginsberg) and by Hebrew authors such as Haim Nahman Bialik. In the ...

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Chapter Six. Heine and the Israeli Novel

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pp. 119-151

Old-New Land and “City of Slaughter” are both Zionist texts written in Europe and thus must negotiate the gap between the context in which they are written, that is, the pragmatic conditions in which they originated, and the ideal space of national fulfillment that ...

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pp. 153-157

This book shows how a literary term—“prose”—was utilized to solve a set of historiosophic, political, and pragmatic problems encountered by Zionist authors. In different ways, these problems all have to do with mediation, with getting from one place, ...


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pp. 159-192


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pp. 193-211


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pp. 213-221

E-ISBN-13: 9780810166394
E-ISBN-10: 0810166399
Print-ISBN-13: 9780810128675
Print-ISBN-10: 0810128675

Page Count: 243
Illustrations: 4 b&w
Publication Year: 2013

Edition: 1
Volume Title: 1

OCLC Number: 859687095
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Prosaic Conditions

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Prose literature -- Jewish authors -- History and criticism.
  • Hegel, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich, -- 1770-1831 -- Criticism and interpretation.
  • Heine, Heinrich, -- 1797-1856 -- Criticism and interpretation.
  • Herzl, Theodor, 1860-1904 -- Criticism and interpretation.
  • Bialik, Hayyim Nahman, 1873-1934 -- Criticism and interpretation.
  • Zionism in literature.
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