Demonstrating the pervasive presence of God in modern Hebrew literature, this book explores the qualities that twentieth-century Hebrew writers attributed to the divine, and examines their functions against the simplistic dichotomy between religious and secular literature.
The volume follows both chronological and thematic paths, offering a panoramic and multilayered analysis of the various strategies in which modern Hebrew writers, from the turn of the nineteenth century through the twenty-first century pursued in their attempt to represent the divine in the face of metaphysical, theological, and representational challenges. Modern Hebrew literature emerged during the nineteenth century as part of the Haskalah (Jewish Enlightenment) movement, which attempted to break from the traditional modes of Jewish intellectual and social life. The Hebrew literature that arose in this period embraced the rebellious nature of the Haskalah and is commonly characterized as secular in nature, defying Orthodoxy and rejecting God. Nevertheless, this volume shows that modern Hebrew literature relied on traditional narratological and poetic norms in its attempt to represent God. Despite its self-declared secularity, it engaged deeply with traditional problems such as the nature of God, divine presence, and theodicy.
Examining these radical changes, this volume is a key text for scholars and students of modern Hebrew literature, Jewish studies and the intersection of religion and literature.
Table of Contents
Introduction 1. Fin-de-Siécle Jewish Writers on the God of Nature 2. Theomorphism and Modern Jewish Literature’s Search for the Divine: Brenner and Shlonsky as a Case Study 3. Uri Zvi in Front of God 4. Narrative and Providence in the Fiction of S. Y. Agnon 5. "And You Will Hand Me into the Hands of Man": God in the Antiwar Poetry of Yehuda Amichai and Dahlia Ravikovitch Epilogue: Pantheism and Its Discontents
Neta Stahl is Associate Professor in the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures and the director of the Stulman Program in Jewish Studies at Johns Hopkins University. She is the author of Other and Brother: The Figure of Jesus in the 20th-Century Jewish Literary Landscape (2013) and Drawings of the Heart: The Poetics of Yoel Hoffmann (2017), and the editor of Jesus Among the Jews (2012). Her articles appeared, among others, in Comparative Literature, Jewish Studies Quarterly, Religion & Literature, Prooftexts, and the Journal of Modern Jewish Studies.