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Hebrew Studies 39 (1998) 272 Reviews decides), thoughts of right and wrong in the face of evil, and the agony of forgetfulness, forgiveness, and proper remembrance. Collectively, the five plays posit a richness of taut realism and informed symbolism extracted from the weight of history that hangs like a noose on this stiff-necked people. This pioneering edition of Israeli Holocaust drama is not for Hebraists only. Modern Hebrew plays translated into good English on a historyshattering event make a significant read. This book is recommended for classes in Hebrew literature and comparative literature classes. Zev Garber Los Angeles Valley College Van Nuys, CA 91401 zevgarber@juno.com CONVERSATIONS WITH DVORA: AN EXPERIMENTAL BIOGRAPHY OF THE FIRST MODERN HEBREW WOMAN WRITER. By Amia Lieblich; translated by Naomi Seidman. Chana Kronfeld and Naomi Seidman, eds. Contraversions: Critical Studies in Jewish Literature, Culture, and Society 6. Pp. xvii + 343. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1997. Cloth, $45.00. Paper, $16.50. Amia Lieblich's Rekamot (Embroideries), an exploration of the life of Dvora Baron, appeared in Israel to considerable acclaim in 1991. Ably translated from the Hebrew by Naomi Seidman, an English version has now been published with the more explanatory title: Conversations with Dvora: An Experimental Biography of the First Modern Hebrew Woman Writer. Conceived as a series of conversations, the book consists of twentyfour imagined encounters between Lieblich, a professor of psychology at Hebrew University, and Baron, the fiction writer famous for her depictions of the shtetl. The two never actually met in life; the format is a fictional device through which the biographer brings her own concerns, perspectives and insights clearly into the open as she puzzles over how to interpret and present her subject. Baron's life lends itself splendidly to this approach. Its perplexing drama and poignancy beg for interpretation, and it seems only right that anyone telling this story should puzzle over it. Born in Lithuania in 1887, Baron was known from an early age as a phenomenon and a curiosity: a girl learned in the holy books at a time when women who knew how to read and write Hebrew were a rarity. By her midteens she was a published Hebrew Studies 39 (1998) 273 Reviews author, respected and sought out by editors. In 1911 she made a/iyah and, soon married to a leader of the Labor Zionist press, she led a very full and active life as a member of the literary and cultural elite of the yishuv. From 1923 on, however, she suffered from a mysterious ailment, took to her bed, and never again left her home. Till her death in 1956 she was tended to by her daughter Tsipora. It was during this housebound period, which contrasts so starkly with her early days of activism and public recognition, that she completed her most accomplished writing. The questions such an enigmatic career raises are many. What was it like to forge a new literature in an ancient language, one that was, for centuries, a male domain? How is it that the same person could devote the first half of her life to building a new world and then, upon establishing herself in that new world, spend the second half of her life reliving memories of the world left behind? How could Baron, so attuned to the injustices committed against women, sacrifice her daughter to her own needs? Why did she never allow Tsipora to go to school or to play with other children? The experimental biography allows Lieblich to pose such questions directly , as it were, to Baron. The reader hears Baron's voice, the interviewer 's views, and also the inner, unspoken thoughts of the interviewer. The conversations follow a roughly chronological order as Dvora recalls the path of her experiences, and then the two characters follow up with discussions on a series of issues. Of special interest are the feminist questions: What hardships were suffered by women of the shtetl, and how would they compare with the pressures on today's women? What were the societal expectations of women, then and now? How have Jewish women combined family obligations with the demands of making a living? Lieblich and Baron also...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2158-1681
Print ISSN
0146-4094
Pages
pp. 272-274
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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