Karen Grumberg.
    Place and Ideology in Contemporary Hebrew Literature
/ Karen Grumberg. -- Syracuse, New York : Syracuse University Press, 2011.
    287 p. -- (Judaic traditions in literature, music, and art)

    John Brinckerhoff Jackson has theorized the vernacular landscape as one that reflects a way of life guided by tradition and custom, distanced from the larger world of politics and law. The quotidian space is shaped by the everyday culture of its inhabitants. In Place and Ideology in Contemporary Hebrew Literature, Grumberg sets anchor in this and other contemporary theories of space and place, then embarks on subtle close readings of recent Israeli fiction that demonstrate how literature in practice can complicate those discourses. Literature in Israel over the past twenty-five years tends to be set in ordinary spaces rather than in explicitly, ideologically charged locations such as contested borders and debated territories. Rarely taking place in settings of war and political violence, it is replete with evocative descriptions of everyday places such as buses and cafés. Yet in academic discussions, the imaginative representations of these sites tend to be neglected in favor of spaces more relevant to religious and political debates.
    To fill this gap, Grumberg proposes a new understanding of how Israeli identity is mapped onto the spaces it inhabits, particularly the concrete sites encountered in the daily lives of ordinary citizens. She demonstrates that in the writing of many Israeli novelists even mundane places often have significant ideological implications. Exploring a wide range of authors, from Amos Oz to Orly Castel-Bloom, Grumberg argues that literary depictions of vernacular spaces play a profound and often unidentified role in serving or resisting ideology.

    Zionist ideology has shaped not only the rural and urban landscapes of Israel but also the way place is represented in its literature. Until the 1980s, Zionist ideals, whether affirmed or critiqued, constituted the organizing spatial principle of Hebrew novels and stories. Recent fiction, however, increasingly disrupts this privileging of the nation and, by extension, the hegemonic conception of Israeli identity. Karen Grumberg’s new book, Place and Ideology in Contemporary Hebrew Literature, begins with an analysis of the Zionist ideological conception of place. It then moves to explicate how this conception generates identity crises, finally arriving at alternative discourses of place that offer some relief, if not a solution to these crises. In its exploration of Hebrew literary portrayals of place and space by a diverse group of authors including Amos Oz and Sayed Kashua, Place and Ideology focuses on vernacular places--the lived places of everyday experience, such as buses, hotels and gardens--to expand the Israeli experience of place beyond its normative cultural, territorial, and ethnic boundaries. Vernacular places, Grumberg argues, are penetrated by ideology, but can also empower people to resist it. This configuration of the dynamics between people and place leads to a more inclusive re-orientation of Israeli identity.

Table of Contents:

  • Preface (pp. ix-x)
  • Acknowledgments (pp. xi-xiv)
  • Introduction (pp. 1-25)
  • Chapter 1. Zionist Places against the Desert Wilderness : Amos Oz (pp. 26-75)
  • Chapter 2. An Architecture of Isolation : Orly Castel-Bloom (pp. 76-122)
  • Chapter 3. The No-Man's-Land of the Israeli Palestinian : Sayed Kashua (pp. 123-157)
  • Chapter 4. Sight and the Diaspora Chronotope : Yoel Hoffmann (pp. 158-199)
  • Chapter 5. Toward a Subversive Spatiality : Ronit Matalon (pp. 200-246)
  • Conclusion (pp. 247-152)
  • References (pp. 255-266)
  • Index (pp. 267-287)

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