In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

Hebrew Studies 41 (2000) 353 Reviews be labeled as decadent/optimistic/pessimistic/nihilistic/sexually licentious/ non-licentious/ and which are inflected by Nietzsche or Schopenhauer. She adds a similarly shaded inventory of criticism of decadence (p. 242). One is reminded of an old Mort Sahl routine in which the night club comic labeled all political figures along a multi-shaded spectrum from left to right. At the same time we must praise the achievements of this book, and they are as noted, a consequence of this detail. Bar Yosef is able to bring her detail to bear on one of literature's serious macro-issues: when the very qualities which inspire one label in an early age, actually foster a contrary label with the perspective of time. (See p. 243, for one example of this.) Finally, it is Bar Yosefs attention to history and to the history of criticism which points towards the enhancement of decadent themes precisely in the place, Eretz Israel, which was created to abolish an exilic decadence. (See chapter 5, especially.) As Bar Yosef notes so importantly in her afterward: The influence of Decadence has been absorbed into the very foundation of Modern Hebrew Literature. in spite of the spiritual and ideological opposition of most of the literary community." The encounter ofdecadent pessimism with optimistic faith in the revival of the Jewish people was a major source of the tensions and the context of these three writers and in the larger literary context in general... (Its) footprints call us to re-examine Zionism from its sources in Herzl and Nordau as anti-decadentists and the implications of this situation for the culture that developed in Eretz Israel (p. 374). Current re-definitions of Zionism and some of the revisionist history of the Jewish nation suggest a rich role for Bar Yosefs book; America's own struggle for self-defmition which includes value along with its world weary cynicism ought to draw many from both worlds into serious dialogue. I hope this book will help enrich that dialogue. William Cutter Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute ofReligion Los Angeles, CA 90007 BEYOND THE LEGEND: A STUDY OF ABBA KOVNER'S POETRY. By Zvia Ben-Yosseph Ginor. pp. 319. Tel Aviv: Hakibbutz Hameuhad, 1995. Paper. This to date is the most extensive study of Abba Kovner's poetic corpus, even though there have been a number of excellent studies of his works Hebrew Studies 41 (2000) 354 Reviews before-Barzel, Hrushovsky, Luria, and Michali. Yet those appeared as articles or chapters, some focused on a single work, and only by reading a number of them can one come to an appreciation of this poet's extensive and multi-layered, nuanced, writing. The benefit here is a unified vision addressing the sum total of the poet's work. The study opens with an examination of the generic issue of a po'ema (long poem), its constituent subgenres, development, and forms in Hebrew literature. Its latest developments in the modem age, to become "The Modem Poetic Sequence" (p. 24), are described with particular regard for Kovner's contributions to its extension and transformation from an epic, inspired, as Hrushovsky claims, by the likes of Alexander Block (in his tAd 10 'Or [Ere Daylight], 1947) and culminating in a T. S. Eliot-like (p. 25) lyrical po'ema, Sloan-Kettering (1987). Ben-Yosseph Ginor approaches Kovner's work-long poems, four volumes of lyrical poetry, two of essays, two children's books and a twovolume novel-as an organic whole, whose parts merely shed light on one another while constituting similar thematic and ideological issues. This assertion is at the study's core as she demonstrates the thematic ties among poems in different anthologies as well as in the least unified po'ema, SioanKettering , wherein it is the individual lyrical poems which become the constituent elements of the larger whole. What would have been helpful is an explanation of the distinctive aspects of each work or genre, for generic choice implies different emphases. In her interpretation of Kovner's poetry, Ben-Yosseph Ginor demonstrates the need to gather all allusions and their smallest fragments, giving rise to a "motif...


Additional Information

Print ISSN
pp. 353-356
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.