Yehuda Amichai: The Making of Israel's National Poet [NOOK Book]

Overview

Yehuda Amichai is one of the twentieth century’s (and Israel’s) leading poets. In this remarkable book, Gold offers a profound reinterpretation of Amichai’s early works, using two sets of untapped materials: notes and notebooks written by Amichai in Hebrew and German that are now preserved in the Beinecke archive at Yale, and a cache of ninety-eight as-yet unpublished letters written by Amichai in 1947 and 1948 to a woman identified in the book as Ruth Z., which were recently ...

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Yehuda Amichai: The Making of Israel's National Poet

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Overview

Yehuda Amichai is one of the twentieth century’s (and Israel’s) leading poets. In this remarkable book, Gold offers a profound reinterpretation of Amichai’s early works, using two sets of untapped materials: notes and notebooks written by Amichai in Hebrew and German that are now preserved in the Beinecke archive at Yale, and a cache of ninety-eight as-yet unpublished letters written by Amichai in 1947 and 1948 to a woman identified in the book as Ruth Z., which were recently discovered by Gold.

Gold found irrefutable evidence in the Yale archive and the letters to Ruth Z. that allows her to make two startling claims. First, she shows that in order to remake himself as an Israeli soldier-citizen and poet, Amichai suppressed (“camouflaged”) his German past and German mother tongue both in reference to his biography and in his poetry. Yet, as her close readings of his published oeuvre as well as his unpublished German and Hebrew notes at the Beinecke show, these texts harbor the linguistic residue of his European origins. Gold, who knows both Hebrew and German, establishes that the poet’s German past infused every area of his work, despite his attempts to conceal it in the process of adopting a completely Israeli identity.

Gold’s second claim is that Amichai somewhat disguised the story of his own development as a poet. According to Amichai’s own accounts, Israel’s war of independence was the impetus for his creative writing. Long accepted as fact, Gold proves that this poetic biography is far from complete. By analyzing Amichai’s letters and reconstructing his relationship with Ruth Z., Gold reveals what was really happening in the poet’s life and verse at the end of the 1940s. These letters demonstrate that the chronological order in which Amichai’s works were published does not reflect the order in which they were written; rather, it was a product of the poet’s literary and national motivations.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“The complexities of the Hebrew revival are at the center of Nili Scharf Gold's exhaustively researched, passionately argued and highly persuasive study of Yehuda Amichai (1924-2000), Israel's ‘beloved unofficial national poet.’”—Washington Post

“ . . . groundbreaking . . . Yehuda Amichai caps years of obviously painstaking and devoted research. Gold’s skillful efforts have yielded an achievement of serious scholarship and academic significance, packaged in a format accessible to the general public.”—Jerusalem Post

“[Gold] has written a very exciting book that enriches and deepens the poet's personality, showing it to be much more complex than previously portrayed. This is a persuasive, unique book that is strongly supported by sources and poetry, a book that presents a new poet - more complex and fascinating than ever, and a faithful representative of his people. Not only does the new side of Amichai revealed in Gold's book enrich his marvelous poetry, it depicts Israel as a multicultural society, gathered from all ends of the earth, bearing numerous and varied traditions. And his Israeliness in combination with his distinct Jewishness gives rise to a rare complexity that is perfectly blended in this representative of all the generations.”—Haaretz

“Nili Scharf Gold is an impressive scholar, and her reading of Amichai’s poems is enormously valuable . . . There is genuinely new and useful material is this book. . . . He was always Israel’s best ambassador whether on a public stage or in a social gathering, and that is the memory that will endure. But Nili Scharf Gold has given us fresh look and an important book. Anyone interested in Amichai will be grateful for it.”—Jewish Quarterly

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Product Details

Meet the Author

NILI SCHARF GOLD is Associate Professor of Modern Hebrew Literature at the University of Pennsylvania.

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Table of Contents

Preface
Introduction: Camouflage as the Key to the Poetry of Yehuda Amichai
Childhood in Wuerzburg: A Dubious Paradise
The Murky Mirror of Wuerzburg in Amichai’s Work
Hiding between the Languages: The German Mother Tongue in Amichai’s Universe
Growing Up in Palestine
“And the Migration of My Parents Has Not Subsided in Me”
The Love Story
The Literary Legacy of the Love Story: “Binyamina, 1947” and “We Loved Here”
The Lovers in the Public Garden
The Haifa Letters: The Making of an Israeli
The Making of a National Poet
Conclusion: Retrieving the Abandoned Landmarks
Appendix A: Texts of Poems Discussed in Their Entirety
Appendix B: Map of Wuerzburg and Legend
Notes
Select Bibliography
Index

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