Abstract

This article provides a critical introduction to the poetry and poetics of Dahlia Ravikovitch. We start with a general assessment of her role within Dor Hamdinah (Statehood Generation) and her impact on Israeli poetry at large. We then sketch out a literary biography, critiquing the tendency toward reductive biographical readings. We note her unorthodox, often antiromantic take on love poetry, and discuss it in the context of her overall poetics. We argue that one of the underlying thematic principles of Ravikovitch's work is the concern with power and powerlessness: the devastating consequences of unequal power relations for the individual and for society. We focus on the central role of irony and wit as distancing devices that hold pathos in check. We then consider various aspects of Ravikovitch's evolving stylistics, from the early poetry with its traditional forms and archaizing language to the plain speech rhythms of the later work, showing that, despite its overt simplicity, the late poetry remains densely allusive and engaged with the Jewish intertextual echo-chamber. We trace the development of Ravikovitch's feminist poetics from "Bubah memukenet" (Clockwork Doll) and "Hamarionetah" (The Marionette) to "Cinderella bamitbaḥ" (Cinderella in the Kitchen) and "Shir eres" (Lullaby). Arguing against the received critical opinion that her poetry became political only in the early 1980s, we explore the coded articulations of the political in the early poetry. We also dispute the conception of her late protest poems as aesthetically inferior topical verse and suggest what can be gained by focusing on the verbal art and intertextual resonance of these poems. Finally, we look closely at the poem "Reḥhifah begovah namukh" (Hovering at a Low Altitude) both as a major artistic achievement and a work of ethical critique.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1086-3311
Print ISSN
0272-9601
Pages
pp. 249-281
Launched on MUSE
2009-05-17
Open Access
No
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