Sheila E. Jelen
An examination of the only woman to achieve recognition in the canon
of modern Hebrew fiction during the Modern Hebrew Renaissance (1881-1921).
Dvora Baron (1887-1956) has been called "the founding mother of Hebrew women’s literature." Born in a small town on the outskirts of Minsk to the community rabbi, Baron immigrated from the Jewish Pale of Settlement to Palestine in 1910. Although she was not the only woman writing in Hebrew in the first few decades of the twentieth century, Baron was the only woman to achieve recognition in the canon of modern Hebrew fiction during that period.
As such, her work reflects both the revolutionary and conservative qualities of the Modern Hebrew Renaissance. Rooted in the Jewish tradition and using the Hebrew language as its battle cry, the Modern Hebrew Renaissance can be said to have distinguished itself from its patriarchal past by fostering a woman’s literary emergence. At the same time, the fact that Dvora Baron was the only woman writing in the first decades of the twentieth century who was included into the Renaissance’s literary canon indicates the movement’s resistance to its own potentially revolutionary nature. Sheila E. Jelen reveals how Baron viewed her own singularity and what this teaches us about the contours of the Modern Hebrew Renaissance—its imperatives and assumptions, its successes and failures.
This is the first full-length, English language treatment of Baron’s Hebrew corpus. It will be of interest to scholars of literary studies, gender studies, Jewish cultural studies, Jewish literary studies, and Hebrew literary studies.
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Sheila E. Jelen is assistant professor of English and Jewish studies at the University
of Maryland. She has written articles and reviews in numerous publications including Hebrew Studies, AJS Review, Jewish Quarterly Review, Tikkun, and J Books. She is the associate editor of Prooftexts: A Journal of Jewish Literary History.
6 x 9, 176 pages, 11 black-and-white photographs, appendixes, index, notes