Random Harvest is an incomplete work of fiction. Seven chapters (2-8) appeared in 1908 in Ha-Shiloaἥ, the literary journal on which Bialik once served as literary editor. Seven additional chapters (9-15) were published in 1919, and the opening chapter appeared in 1923.
Some scattered prose fragments found among Bialik's literary remains deal with a young man called Shmulik, the very name of the hero of Random Harvest. It would seem that Bialik had intended to write "the novel of his generation" but never finished it.
Although Random Harvest contains some autobiographical elements, it is a fictionalized autobiography. Bialik had occasion to criticize those readers who naively took everything he wrote in the first person to be autobiographical. Zeva Shamir, a noted Bialik scholar, goes as far as to claim that Bialik "invented" a mythological autobiography that actually was a portrayal of the life of a typical product of the shtetl rather than a real account of his own life. This mythologizing, she claims, extended to Bialik's so-called autobiographical notes, such as his letter to Joseph Klausner. Even these alleged memoirs deal with stereotypical experiences that any one of his contemporaries may have had. She makes much of Bialik's description of his cruel schoolmaster and particularly of his stern father and of the putative poverty his family had suffered after his father's early death. Bialik actually came from a middle-class family; his