Halkin, Hillel. “The Lady of Hebrew and Her Lovers of Zion”, Toby Press, 2020.
Hebrew, Zionism and the State of Israel
Many take for granted the importance of literature in his history of a country. In the case of Israel, the importance of literature began long before the establishment of the state. A number of major Hebrew authors, writing in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, had tremendous impact on the evolution of the modern Hebrew language and on Zionism as a historic force in Jewish life. Yet even with this Hebrew novelists, essayists, and poets such as Joseph Perl, Peretz Smolenskin, Ahad Ha’am, Micha Yosef Berdichevsky, Chaim Nachman Bialik, Rahel, Yosef Chaim Brenner, and S. Y. Agnon are so much more than just of historical significance. They were all highly accomplished writers with secure places in the pantheon of modern Hebrew literature because of the skill, depth, and power of their work.
Hillel Halkin is a wonderful writer and his skill is seen all over the book. He discusses the writers featured here through “literary criticism, intellectual history, virtuoso translation, and personal reflection.” On a personal note, ”The Lady of Hebrew and her Lovers of Zion” arrived just as my study group was looking at the poetry of Rahel. I thought that I knew a lot about her since I had lived on the kibbutz where she once experienced Israel. I found out that there was a great deal about her that I did not know. Likewise, I found the chapter on Chaim Nachman Bialik, my favorite Hebrew poet.