The Politics of Canonicity: Lines of Resistance in Modernist Hebrew Poetry

Synopsis

The Politics of Canonicity explores the complex relations among the hegemonic triad of territory, nation and national literature that has characterized the modern European nation-state. In the case of Hebrew literature, this triad was unattainable and its components fiercely contested, hence the literary field itself was responsible for shaping the nation, preceding the nation-state itself.

The book sheds new light on the dynamics of modernist canon formation. The aesthetic paradigms, political ideologies, and social interests that privilege certain texts and literary modes are reexamined within the framework of the conscious and deliberate practices of Zionism to formulate a national discourse. As the author shows, the suppressed, the marginal, the undesired "other" of the nation demonstrate the limits of both the literary canon and society's own self-understanding.

The book combines the specific questions of Hebrew literature with a critical inquiry of the theoretical debates surrounding the notion of,canon. It begins by examining the formative debate in both Hebrew letters and European discourses of modernity at the end of the nineteenth century, which address the tension between writing the nation and writing the self. It moves on to the equally constitutive question within Jewish nationalism of the relation between diaspora and homeland in literary writing. While international modernism tends to glorify exile, Hebrew modernism demonstrated a fierce antagonism toward a "diaspora mentality."

In his analysis of the suppressed margins of the Hebrew literary canon, the author outlines the specific aesthetic fault lines of the new national community. In chapters devoted to thepoets David Fogel and Avot Yeshurun, and the poetics of a feminine voice in Rachel Bluwstein, Esther Raab and Anda Pinkerfeld, he analyzes the historical tensions between margin and canon, highlighting the ways in which these ma

Additional information

Contributors:
Includes content by:
  • Daniel Boyarin
  • Chana Kronfeld
  • Naomi Seidman
Publisher: Place of publication:
  • Stanford, CA
Publication year:
  • 2003