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Hebrew Studies 41 (2000) 335 Reviews given text can be explained without reference to the main hypothesis as easily as through such reference, if exceptions in fact as well as in portrayal are acknowledged to have taken place, then it appears that the hypothesis has no predictive or explanatory power. Professor Kalmin's scruples may well have done him in. Was all his labor then for naught? Not really, and herein lies the real value of the book. The main hypothesis really is plausible, and it makes a welcome contribution to our increasingly sophisticated picture of "the world of the Sages." The problem is not in Professor Kalmin's method but in the nature of his materials, and he must not be held responsible for that. Historical certainty in the study of ancient rabbinic Judaism is rarely attainable . Every text is overdetennined, anything one encounters can be explained in more than one way, while few possible explanations can ever be decisively eliminated. With respect to style, perhaps more forthright assertiveness would have done no hann; with respect to substance, however , Professor Kalmin has given his readers the best they could hope for. We his readers are in his debt. Robert Goldenberg State University ofNew York at Stony Brook Stony Brook, NY 11794 rggoldenberg@notes.cc.sunysb.edu KINDS OF GENRE IN HASKALAH LITERATURE: TYPES AND TOPICS. By Moshe Pelli. Pp. 357 + Eng. Abstract. Tel Aviv: Hakibbutz Hameuchad, 1999. Paper, $30.00. Studies of the Haskalah. that fonnative, though often overlooked. period of modem Hebrew literature are too few. Of the more visible scholars in the field, Moshe Pelli has been among the tenacious ones to maintain an ongoing program of research. on a number of levels, evaluating and reevaluating the contributions of the founders of modem Hebrew literature. Yet this was the period which begot contemporary Hebrew literature. It was at that time. for example, when interest in the individual first took center stage (p. 237), realizing Alexander Pope's dictum that "The proper study of mankind is man." However. one significant barrier to a fulIer representation of the individual was the century-old hold of the classical Hebrew style. the melitzah. Hebrew Studies 41 (2000) 336 Reviews introduced during the Neo-Classical period of the Haskalah. This melitzah, a pastiche of sentence fragments and words derived from biblical, mishnaic , medieval, and rabbinical sources, could not be an adequate vehicle to accurately express a reality gradually encroaching upon these writers. The melitzah. then, was technically and stylistically a mode better suited to express generalizations, conventional stock depictions, or expressions that did not easily satisfy the trend toward particularization of the individual. While the exploration of individualism may have begun in the Haskalah's early decades, a mimetically faithful representation of character, psychologically and otherwise, had to wait until its last phases. Pelli's current work, to be supplemented by a forthcoming systematic catalogue of the periodical Hame'ase/ (1783-1797, 1809-1811), is the culmination of a long process of identifying, analyzing, and describing the varieties of literary genre found in early Haskalah literature. According to his count, no fewer than ten distinct genres-the epistolary tale, the dialogue of the dead, imaginary dialogues, religious disputations, the fable, the satire, the travelogue, the biography, the autobiography, and the utopiawere launched in the early decades of the Haskalah. They were among the factors to energize this incipient movement, a matter which appears to stand as the overriding thesis of this book. Pelli's study is devoted to a description and evaluation of these genres. Among the motives behind the numerous genres during the Haskalah was a desire to innovate by experimenting with Hebrew in a variety of forms and forums (p. 101). Addressing the elements at the root of the study's thesis, the author asserts that these genres were derived from European literature and earlier Hebrew literary sources. In the latter case, for example, Pelli claims that the propensity of present conversations of the dead as a generic form was inspired as much by European models as rabbinic responsa literature. Another argument is that Satanow's works were derived from ancient Hebrew wisdom literature, the dialogues from the Kuzar; by...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2158-1681
Print ISSN
0146-4094
Pages
pp. 335-339
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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