The establishment of the State of Israel in 1948 has had a major effect on Hebrew literature’s self-image. From the Haskalah onward, the Hebrew writer perceived himself as “watchman unto the house of Israel,” a prophet seeking to voice the national aspirations and concerns of the Jewish people. After sovereignty was established, the writer’s national role became superfluous and the literary world was gripped by a sense of melancholia over its diminished role in the newly established state. Nathan Zach, the leader of the younger generation of poets who began writing after 1948, expressed this melancholic stance by questioning the very necessity of poetry. Zach’s focus on the individual’s personal experiences is usually read in celebratory terms, as signaling the rejection of the collectivist ideology of the 1940s. In contrast, I read Zach’s stance as one of mourning and melancholia over the fate of literature itself in the wake of statehood.


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pp. 164-179
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