Israeli Salvage Poetics by Sheila E. Jelen

Israeli Salvage Poetics by Sheila E. Jelen

Through thoughtful analysis of twentieth- and twenty-first-century Israeli literature, Israeli Salvage Poetics interrogates the concept of the “negation of the diaspora” as addressed in Hebrew-language literature authored by well-known and lesser-known Israeli authors from the eve of the Holocaust to the present day. Author Sheila E. Jelen considers the way that Israeli writers from eastern Europe or of eastern European descent incorporate pre-Holocaust eastern European culture into their own sense of Israeliness or Jewishness. Many Israelis interested in their eastern European legacy live with an awareness of their own nation’s role in the repression of that legacy, from the elevation of Hebrew over Yiddish to the ridicule and resentment directed at culture, text, and folk traditions from eastern Europe. To right the wrongs of the past and reconcile this conflict of identity, the Israeli authors discussed in this book engage in what Jelen calls “salvage poetics”: they read Yiddish literature, travel to eastern Europe, and write of their personal and generational relationships with Ashkenazi culture. Israeli literary representations of eastern European Jewry strive, sometimes successfully, to recuperate eastern European Jewish pre-Holocaust culture for the edification of an audience that might feel responsible for the silencing and extinction of that culture.

Year first published: 2023

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