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Reviewed by:
  • Modern Hebrew Literature Made into Films
  • Yair Mazor
Modern Hebrew Literature Made into Films, by Lev Hakak. Lanham: University Press of America, 2001. $52.00.

The considerably praiseworthy nature and scholarly meritorious character of this book stems from a phenomenon that will be hereby briefly addressed.

The principal unique character of this book derives from its innovative scholarly agenda and mission: to study modern Hebrew literature, while the latter is “metamorphasized” from the verbal genre to the visual genre of film. This metamorphosis, which amalgamates two different artistic genres that meet and interact in one aesthetic intersection, is achieved by producing two unexpectedly insightful perspectives. Accordingly, once a work of literature is extricated from its verbal genre and launches the artistic voyage that eventually leads to the visual genre of film, two new aesthetic perspectives are conceived: the verbal, literary genre is reintroduced from the perspective of the visual genre of film and the visual genre of film is observed via the perspective of the literary, verbal genre.

This way the book produces, both prudently and dexterously, a prolifically reciprocal dialogue between two different genres. The fact that the mutual interaction between the two different aesthetic genres consists of one work of art (a novel) enables the estimable operation of observing and studying the very same work of art from two different, and equally complementary points of view. In addition, observing the very same work of art from both perspectives, and also from a perspective that is alien to it by nature, casts a new, insightful light on the specific work of art.

The book addresses modern Hebrew literature and modern Israeli cinema, as well as the point at which they cross. Accordingly, the book prudently commences with two introductory chapters: the artistic/ideological history of Hebrew literature, and the artistic/ideological history of Israeli cinema. This way, the reader can study the specific discussions that focus on the mutual interaction between modern Hebrew novels and [End Page 178] modern Israeli cinema. This is done in a panoramic, comprehensive and elucidating context of the roots and evolvements of both the arts and genres under consideration.

The remaining chapters are dedicated to detailed, informative, and illuminating discussions concentrating on the various ways in which novels by highly renowned Israeli Hebrew writers (such as Amos Oz, A. B. Yehoshua, S. Yizhar) are adapted into film. Each discussion focuses on the work of literature under consideration and later discusses the way it was “translated” into a film by converting its verbal qualities into visual ones.

This way, each chapter enables the reader to “encounter twice” the work of literature in focus: once in its “natural aesthetic” environment and another in its “alien- hosting” environment. Correspondingly, the reader’s artistic experience upon encountering the work of literature is heightened through the acquisition of a novel, unexpected perspective.

Thus, the unique character of this book may be metaphorically depicted as a catalyst for the reader to embark on an aesthetically exciting voyage in the realms of modern Hebrew literature and modern Israeli film.

Yair Mazor
UWM Center for Jewish Studies
Head, Hebrew Studies Program
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

Additional Information

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pp. 178-179
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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