The American Oz: Notes on translation and reception

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This article offers a discussion of Amos Oz’s early translation and reception history in the American literary scene. The article pays particular attention to Oz’s double capacity as novelist and political commentator, and how it may have contributed to the unique role quickly assigned to him in American public and intellectual discourse. Against the backdrop of the formative social and political context of the 1970s, the article suggests some defining traits of the transformation, and ultimately the reduction, of the Israeli Oz into the American Oz. Oz’s works were largely perceived through an allegorical-political framework or pigeonholed as portrayals of the national psyche, while Oz himself was assigned the role of spokesman for the Israeli Left. Oz was actively involved in shaping his political persona and nonfiction repertoire in English, mainly through his (non-)selection of essays for translation, and his interviews and topical commentary in the American press. These, the article shows, were sometimes moderated for the English-speaking audience, diluting the more forceful political criticism the novelist had presented to his Hebrew readers, and abating the description of aspects of Israeli reality that drew his ire.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)303-327
Number of pages25
JournalJournal of Israeli History
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2020

Bibliographical note

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© 2021 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


  • American reception
  • Amos Oz
  • Hebrew-English translation
  • Israeli literature
  • Israeli-American Jewish relations
  • Israeli-Palestinian conflict


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