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104 SHOFAR Palestinians may come as a shocking surprise, even for those who keep up with the daily news. In addition to the' strictly political issues, Pogrebin also reflects upon various cultural phenomena which helped form her self-identity, most specifically the movies. She correctly identifies prevailing stereotypes and bemoans the limited images available for identification. But here, as elsewhere , her personal responses substitute for a thoroughgoing analysis. Her thumbnail sketch of the representation of Jewish women as presented by Hollywood is selective and incomplete. Although Pogrebin's experience in the movie theater may be familiar to many readers, it is only one possible response out of a multitude, and certainly the self-image we develop as Jewish women is happily more complex than what was provided by Hollywood. But this is to quibble. Pogrebin ends her book with a reaffirmation of the difficult and often frustrating process of dialogue. It is not a perfect process. Pogrebin's book, consciously or unconsciously, is an extension of this methodology and thus serves to open up rather than to summarize issues. In this respect it provides a valuable function at this moment in history. Patricia Brett Erens Department ofCommunicationArts & Science Rosary College Hebrew Poetry of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, by Dan Pagis. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1991. 84 pp. $22.50. This publication is a small but important book of essays concerning medieval Hebrew poetry. It can be instructive as well as enjoyable for both student and scholar. Dr. Pagis warns the reader of the many dangers inherent in making generalizations about Hebrew poetry in both Muslim and Christian Spain bctwccn the twelfth and the fifteenth centuries. He describes the vast variety of individual poets living in many territories, writing in many styles, and performing in different settings in this period. By making generalizations, Pagis declares, the individuality of the poet and the universality of each poet's message would be destroyed. Pagis avoids ideological value judgments concerning these frequent literary generalizations by attributing such attitudes to a lack of knowledge of the Arabic, Spanish, and Italian languages. Many anthologists made their own selective Vol. 10, No. 4 Summer 1992 105 choices and confined themselves to limited genres with which they were familiar. According to Pagis, they did not pursue the inner depth of the individual poem and its unique development by the poet. Also, confusion frequently occurred when the anthologist mistakenly changed the individual "I" into the collective "we," and vice versa. Pagis contributes to all of our understanding of Spanish-Hebrew poetry by stating, "Contrary to the accepted views, the secular poet was not required to conform to fIXed genres and was not enjoined from transgressing them." He repeatedly emphasizes the need to eliminate terms such as "classical," "romantic," or "mythological" in describing the truly diverse elements of Hebrew poetry of the Middle Ages. Though Hebrew poetry of this period had its ornamental side, one should not ignore this device as a vehicle for genuine self-expression. One striking example of this concept is cited by Pagis as follows: In Judah Halevi's Hartirdof Na'arut Alpar l;Iamishim? (Would you pursue youth after age fifty?), the poet describes a stormy sea in his 'journey from Spain to the Holy Land. Surprisingly, the ornamental imagery at the end of the poem turns out to be a magnificent paean to the integration of man with nature. "Now the sea and the sky are pure, glittering ornaments upon the night. The sea is the color of the sky-they are two seas bound together. And between these two" my heart is a third sea, as the new waves of my praise surge on high." Pagis sees in this quote from )')alevi's stunning creativity just one example of many he can find in Hebrew poetry of this period. There is no question but that Pagis has discovered the genius of these individual poets and has proven the validity of his cautionary words concerning the superficiality of generalization. Pagis also reminds us that while Spanish influence in poetry extended far beyond the borders of Spain to Turkey, Holland, and Italy during the Renaissance, awareness has to be made of the...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1534-5165
Print ISSN
0882-8539
Pages
pp. 104-106
Launched on MUSE
2012-10-03
Open Access
No
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