Near Eastern Languages & Cultures | Modern Hebrew Literature in English
N587 | 3145 | Katz

Course Meets: 2:30 - 3:45   MWF   BH 344
First 8 weeks only

"Laugh, and the world laughs with you; cry, and you cry alone"   this saying characterizes the meteoric rise
of satire as the leading literary form in modern Hebrew literature at the turn of the century.  To laugh at the
other, only to realize that one is laughing at oneself, has served Hebrew writers well as they undertook the
process of social and cultural reform of Jewish life, as the latter emerged from a religion-centered world
view to take an active part in modern Western society.  This course will trace some of the processes of
social transformation in which Hebrew literature took an active hand.  In N387 we learn about the "shtetl",
the small eastern European town wherein most Jews lived. Concepts and issues such as short Fridays, Red
Jews, the distorted replay of biblical situations in the present and the challenges to faith in a secular world
will lead us through a selection of readings deemed among the best in modern Hebrew literature.  Students
will be challenged to consider the issue of theodicy, or Divine justice, in a world dominated by technology
and science; we will meet idiots who believe they were born to explore the world, lovers who cannot be
happy, and stories of un/happy marriages, divorces and endings.  Readings will consist primarily of
representative short stories, a novel and a work of non-fiction for background information.  Some selected
poetry will also be read in class.  All readings will be directed to illuminate the manner by which Hebrew
writers expressed their views concerning personal and universal experiences such as the loss of innocence
and tradition in a modern world, nationalism, the Holocaust, war, peace, the individual and the image of
the new, with an emphasis on the stories by S.Y. Agnon, Israel's greatest story teller and Nobel Prize

No prerequisites