Measuring distances: Hebrew essayists reading world literature

Dina Berdichevsky*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In this article I discuss the late essayistic prose of two Hebrew writers, essayists, and readers of world literature—Leah Goldberg and Shlomo Grodzensky. Both of these writers belonged to a distinct generation of intellectuals in Hebrew literature. Grodzensky named this generation “the children of World War I.” This article focuses on their essays written during the 1960s, as they became the last representatives of world literature in the Israeli-Hebrew literary republic. Their work as unique writers and as members of their literary generation represented a critical moment in the history of Hebrew modern literature, a moment of renegotiation of the boundaries of national literature in a multilingual world. Goldberg’s and Grodzensky’s essayistic prose showed a new and empathic relation of the Hebrew text toward foreign words. Furthermore, a central claim in this article is that these writers’ self-estranged mode of mediation modestly posed a question mark over the very notion of a Jewish national unified native language.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)27-52
Number of pages26
JournalProoftexts - Journal of Jewish Literature History
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - 2017
Externally publishedYes


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