Arms and the Woman: War, Gender, and Literary Representation

By Helen M. Cooper; Adrienne Auslander Munich et al. | Go to book overview

Esther Fuchs


Images of Love and War in Contemporary Israeli Fiction: A Feminist Re-vision

In an essay on the new Israeli story, Baruch Kurzweil argues that since the early 1960s, Israeli fiction has demonstrated an increasing obsession with the subject of Eros. He refers to Eros not in its Freudian sense of the life instinct but in the sense of "the temptations of woman," and as such he uses it as a term of opprobrium: "But this special conspicuousness of Eros, which is so characteristic of so many Israeli stories, testifies to the lack of a real goal in life. This mania for Eros in the Hebrew story is not a sign of effervescent vitality, but of something sick. It signifies an escape from the emptiness of life." 1 Kurzweil goes on to interpret the proliferation of the stories about the sexual "temptations of woman" not only as a manifestation of existential nausea, but also as an expression of self-hatred, an attempt to flee from Jewish identity, a suicidal pursuit of false Western idols. Although he calls attention to an important development in what came to be known as the literature of the New Wave (which emerged in the late 1950s and early 1960s in reaction to the confined realism and socialist Zionist ideology of their predecessors), Kurzweil ignores the fact that Eros (in his sense) is often linked to Thanatos, the human desire to die. By failing to note the punitive element in the association in the literature of the 1960s and 1970s of "the temptations of woman" with the motif of death, Kurzweil implicitly endorses the androcentric vision which couples woman's sexuality with destruction. It is this tendency in the new Israeli story, to couple woman with destruction, that I would like to examine here.

The thematic relationship between heterosexual love and national war has pervaded Israeli fiction since its inception in the late 1940s. Yet the presentation of this relationship has undergone radical structural transformations from its bipolar appearance in the works of S. Yizhar and Moshe Shamir to its interdependent presentation in the works of Yitzhak Ben Ner, Ya'akov Buchan, and David

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Arms and the Woman: War, Gender, and Literary Representation
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgments xi
  • Notes xix
  • War and Memory 1
  • Arms and the Woman: The Con[tra]ception of the War Text 9
  • Notes 23
  • Works Cited 23
  • "Still Wars and Lechery": Shakespeare and the Last Trojan Woman 25
  • Notes 39
  • Works Cited 40
  • Rewriting History: Madame de Villedieu and the Wars of Religion 43
  • Notes 55
  • Works Cited 57
  • Southern Women's Diaries of Sherman's March to the Sea, 1864-1865 59
  • Notes 75
  • Works Cited 77
  • Civil Wars and Sexual Territories 80
  • Notes 95
  • Works Cited 96
  • The Women and Men of 1914 97
  • Notes 118
  • Corpus/Corps/Corpse: Writing the Body in/at War 124
  • Notes 159
  • Works Cited 164
  • May Sinclair's The Tree of Heaven: The Vortex of Feminism, the Community of War 168
  • Notes 179
  • Works Cited 182
  • Combat Envy and Survivor Guilt: Willa Cather's "Manly Battle Yarn" 184
  • Notes 201
  • Works Cited 203
  • "Seeds for the Sowing": The Diary of Käthe Kollwitz 205
  • Notes 221
  • Works Cited 223
  • A Needle with Mama's Voice: Mitsuye Yamada's Camp Notes and the American Canon of War Poetry 225
  • Notes 241
  • Feminism, the Great War, and Modern Vegetarianism 244
  • Images of Love and War in Contemporary Israeli Fiction: A Feminist Re-vision 268
  • Notes 277
  • Works Cited 280
  • Nuclear Domesticity: Sequence and Survival 283
  • Notes 299
  • "Epitaphs and Epigraphs: 'The End(s) of Man'" 303
  • Notes 319
  • Works Cited 321
  • A Bibliography of Secondary Sources 323
  • The Contributors 331
  • Index 335
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