"To endow suffering with elegance": Dahlia Ravikovitch and the poetry of the statehood generation

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This essay explores the poetics of Dahlia Ravikovitch - as embodied in herfirst book Ahavat tapuah-hazahav (The Love of an Orange; 1959) -against the background of the stylistic and ideological dynamics of the Statehood Generation. Despite the enormously positive reception of her first book, Ravikovitch was never seen as a leading figure in the poetry of the Statehood Generation. Her relatively marginal place stems, at least partially, from an androcentric bias; after all, Hebrew literature has always been seen - by literary critics and writers alike - as patrilineal. Yet there is an additional explanation for Ravikovitch's relative marginality. Her poetry deviated in significant ways from the stylistic imperatives of her generation; moreover, she deliberately undermined all efforts to portray her poetry - and thus the poetry of the generation as a whole - in the reductive terms of rebellion. Her poetry from the beginning evinced an exceedingly intricate imbrication in all the historical strata of the Hebrew language and an affinity with literary generations traditionally seen as antithetical; working against the historiographic script of intergenerational rebellion, she felt an intimate affinity with the poetry of the previous generation: that of Avraham Shlonsky, Natan Alterman, Leah Goldberg, and Yonatan Ratosh. The exclusion of Ravikovitch from Zach's "official historiography" enabled this narrative to maintain the notion of an Oedipal struggle of the Statehood Generation against its predecessors; her inclusion, by contrast, calls into question the universal validity of this revolutionary narrative, and challenges the explanatory power of any historiographic model that places an Oedipal struggle at its center.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)282-309
Number of pages28
JournalProoftexts - Journal of Jewish Literature History
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2008


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