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A New Sound in Hebrew Poetry

Poetics, Politics, Accent

Miryam Segal

Publication Year: 2010

With scrupulous attention to landmark poetic texts and to educational and critical discourse in early 20th-century Palestine, Miryam Segal traces the emergence of a new accent to replace the Ashkenazic or European Hebrew accent in which almost all modern Hebrew poetry had been composed until the 1920s. Segal takes into account the broad historical, ideological, and political context of this shift, including the construction of a national language, culture, and literary canon; the crucial role of schools; the influence of Zionism; and the leading role played by women poets in introducing the new accent. This meticulous and sophisticated yet readable study provides surprising new insights into the emergence of modern Hebrew poetry and the revival of the Hebrew language in the Land of Israel.

Published by: Indiana University Press

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. ix

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pp. xi-xvii

In December 2001, on a visit home to the United States, and having been deprived of easy access to American radio for over a year while living in Israel, I took advantage of the break from my research on Hebrew literature and accent to catch up on all things American. I tuned in to a program on a local New York satellite of National Public Radio to find no less a popular cultural ...

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pp. xix-xx

I would like to acknowledge the Fulbright Foundation for funding my research and writing at Tel Aviv University during the 2000–2001 academic year. In subsequent years the National Foundation for Jewish Culture provided support, as did the Memorial Foundation for Jewish Culture and the Hadassah International Research Institute on Jewish Women. I am also indebted to the Indiana University College ...

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A Note on Transliteration

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pp. xxi

This book uses the Library of Congress Hebrew Romanization Table for most Hebrew words and titles. Names of people and places are likewise Rommanized, but without the use of diacritical marks to represent the letters 'ayin and ’alef. Exceptions are made for proper nouns that are widely accepted in other forms, such as Jerusalem, Eliezer Ben-Yehuda, and Chaim Witz (but ...

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pp. 1-19

... In 1800 there were about 5,000 Jews in Palestine. Most were of Sephardic background and the vast majority lived in Jerusalem, Safed, Tiberias, and Hebron. Ashkenazic immigrants in the late eighteenth century, mostly membs bers of Hasidic sects, had formed minorities within the Sephardic communits ties and received support from them.1 In the 1820s members of the Hasidic ...

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One: “Make Your School a Nation-State”Pedagogy and the Rise of the New Accent

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pp. 20-48

Devorah Baron’s fictional character Rothstein, father of Brak khah, gives himself away as a former Hebrew teacher with his hypercorrect pronunciation of his daughter’s name. Baron was born in Lithuania and moved to Palestine as a young woman in 1907, and her stories and novellas draw on details of Jewish life in both locales. In this, her work was not unlike ...

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Two: Representing a Nation in Sound Organic, Hybrid, and Synthetic Hebrews

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pp. 49-72

The school plays an important role in the transformation of particular modes of speech and writing into a national language. The peculiarities of Jewish history and nationalism created an awkward linguistic-pedagogic situation at the end of the nineteenth century, in which the Hebrew language was not sufficiently exercised to be fit for use in the schools in Palestine. It ...

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Three: “Listening to Her Is Torture”The Menace of a Male Voice in a Woman’s Body

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pp. 74-99

... Why then does Yokheved Bat-Miryam’s accent irritate her so much? It is difficult to imagine Bluvshtain confiding to Milshtain that listening to Bialik or Tchernichovsky—or even Uri Tsevi Greenberg and Avraham Shlonsky only a few years earlier—was torture. Bat-Miryam was certainly not an early adopter of the new accent, but why does that make her Ashkenazic accent so offensive? ...

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Four: The Runaway Train and the Yiddish Kid Shlonsky’s Double Inscription

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pp. 100-138

Whether or not his new-accent poem “Train” made a bigger impression on Hebrew speakers than the actual Jezreel Valley train that first rode into Palestine in 1904, Avraham Shlonsky continues to be the focus of scholarship on the literaary new accent. He performed perfectly the role of innovator, inscribing the proto-Israeli accent in contradictory service to national identity: as both new and ...

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Epilogue: The Conundrum of the National Poet

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pp. 139-148

At the beginning of this book, I observed that a common reaction of contemporary Israelis to the subject of my research—the rise of a new, proto-Israeli accent in Hebrew poetry—was to recite a line or two of Bialik’s poem “To the Bird” in an Ashkenazic accent. What does this reaction signify? There are a number of possibilities. One might hear it as an astute ...

Appendix 1. Interview with Gene Simmons by Leonard Lopate*

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pp. 151

Appendix 2. “Rakevet” [Train]*

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pp. 153-156


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pp. 159-188


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pp. 191-198


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pp. 199-206

E-ISBN-13: 9780253003584
E-ISBN-10: 025300358X
Print-ISBN-13: 9780253352439

Page Count: 232
Publication Year: 2010