Gluzman, M., The Politics of Canonicity: Lines of Resistance in Modernist Hebrew Poetry: [Review]

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In his epilogue to The Politics of Canonicity, Michael Gluzman has aptly delineated the parameters of this book, by writing that it “originates from the American debate on canon formation and cultural wars that predominated academic discourse during my years at University of California, Berkeley” (p. 181). This statement firmly sets its author within a critical context that auspiciously brings a wider literary discourse, such as that sustained by Chana Kronfeld and Hannan Hever, into the realm of modern Hebrew poetry. In particular, The Politics of Canonicity is identified by its publication in the series entitled Contraversions: Jews and Other Differences, which has a primary interest in the ongoing redefinition of Jewish identity and culture, specifically involving issues of gender, modernity, and politics. The Politics of Canonicity is effectively divided into two parts. In the first, comprising Chapters 1 and 2, Gluzman provides the intellectual and historical context for the interwoven formation of national identity and the literary canon in modern Hebrew literature. In particular, in Chapter 1 he relates the story of the 1896–1897 debate between Ahad Ha'am and Mikha Yosef Berdichevsky, arguing that it produced a dominant and regulative paradigm of Hebrew literature that integrates the private and public, the aesthetic and the national. In the second chapter, Gluzman discusses the way in which Hebrew modernism created a counterpoint to international modernism's glorification of exile. He discusses a full range of premodernist and modernist Hebrew poets—Shaul Tchernichovsky, Avigdor Hameiri, Avraham Shlonsky, Noach Stern, and Leah Goldberg—in order to underline their resistance to “the idea of exile as a literary privilege or as an inherently Jewish vocation” (p. 37), a resistance which Gluzman determines as calling into question “the critical tendency to read modernist practices as essentially antinationalist” (p. 37).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)179-181
Number of pages3
JournalAJS Review
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2005

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • History
  • Religious studies
  • Literature and Literary Theory


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