Surfaces of Encounter Modern Hebrew Literature and Its Readers in the Early Twentieth Century

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Modern Hebrew literature, at the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century, with its dramatic developments in poetry, short stories and essays, is mostly described as a central institution of the Jewish nation-building project. However, throughout its national period, this was a non-sovereign literature, produced and read by minor Jewish communities in their European host cultures. This chapter presents the far-reaching consequences of the transnational infrastructure of the modern Hebrew literary field. First, I argue with the assumption that modern Hebrew literature developed as a national, pre-statehood institution, and suggest to rethink the meaning of its territorial dispersion. Subsequently I readdress the fact that throughout its early constitutive national phases, the modern Hebrew readership never extended beyond a social minority. I argue for the identification of a new group of readers in the modern Hebrew readership: those with restricted Hebrew literacy, who could not understand modern Hebrew texts, but approved of the national implications of such writing.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationTextxet
Subtitle of host publicationStudies in Comparative Literature
PublisherBrill Academic Publishers
Number of pages19
StatePublished - 2021

Publication series

NameTextxet: Studies in Comparative Literature
ISSN (Print)0927-5754

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, 2021.


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