The translation and mediation of literature can play an important role in the ideologically charged transfer of ideas between cultures. This paper approaches the English translation of Hebrew literature as a subtle form of cultural appropriation, whereby agents such as literary critics, scholars, editors, and translators mediated Israeli notions and narratives into Jewish American literary discourse. The article discusses forms of mediation of Hebrew literature in the 1960s and 1970s that promoted a more progressive, yet less secular, notion of Judaism than that depicted in the source works, and subdued an antidiasporic view of Jewish identity. It shows how high moral standards were represented as an inherent feature of Judaism, and Israeli society was portrayed in a more positive moral light than in the sometimes self-critical source texts. American Jewish readership was thus introduced to a notion of Judaism that the agents assumed would be easier to stomach than that of the source literary works, and could serve to reinforce some of the tenets of contemporary American Jewish identity.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This paper is based on work originally presented at the Leffell Seminar on the Impact of Israel on American Jewry that took place in Westchester, New York, August 2015. I would like to thank the participants of the seminar for the lively discussion and insightful comments, and the Leffell Foundation for its generous support of this research.
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