“The courage for the mundane” became idiomatic in research on Leah Goldberg, a kind of code phrase capturing her singularity among the poets of her generation. The essay “The Courage for the Mundane” (1938) is a potential guide, confessional and theoretical, into the poet’s world, a key to examine her poetic positions. This essay scrutinizes the ways the notion stands in relation to the historical and biographical conditions of its conception and reflects her psychological, ideological, philosophical, aesthetic, and cultural paradigms.
The mundane versus the exalted, the particular versus the universal, Realism versus Romanticism, nationalism versus humanism, the European homeland and the homeland in Palestine/Eretz Israel, the German spirit as opposed to its Jewish counterpart—these are some of the antithetical categories for which Leah Goldberg, against all odds, seeks to find a synthetic, pre-structural redemption.
I argue that “the courage for the mundane” reflects an experience of inherent non-resolution and a necessary, constant, and painful condition of dialectical oscillation. Many questions concerning the poet’s aesthetical and ideological views, as well as her special place in Hebrew culture, are likely to find a fuller answer by means of an in-depth understanding of this concept: the preference for a position that brings together the paragon of totality with a commitment to the ordinary, even if this involves a shade of self-deception.