Retracing Literature and Dead Writers. At a Crossroads: Polish, Yiddish, Hebrew
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This article portrays a journey of two Israeli literary critics and writers, Yoram Bronowski and Avner Holzman, who are traveling to Poland in order to find the traces of their favorite Jewish: Isaac Leib Peretz, Boleslaw Lesmian and Uri Nissan Gnessin, who had written in three different languages: Polish, Hebrew and Yiddish. Jewish writers in Poland at the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th centuries were, like the whole Jewish people, in a position in which they had to choose their identity, language being one of its elements. Jewish writers were in a specific position in which they had more than one native language, so they could choose between Polish, Yiddish and Hebrew. They could relinquish their Jewish identity, and assimilate totally in the Polish society, and write in Polish like Lesmian. However they could cling to their Jewish identity, and not assimilate in the non-Jewish world, the two main alternatives were either to support the Yiddish culture, as was the case of Peretz, or to seek a national solution for the Jewish people in Zionism and consequently, like Gnessin, to create in Hebrew. From these two Jewish alternatives, Yiddish and Hebrew, the first was exterminated entirely in the Shoah, not only because the writers were murdered, but mainly because the potential readers perished too, in which case it means a total destruction of a whole culture. In the case of Hebrew literature, the traces lead, like in the case of Gnessin, not only to the cemetery in Warsaw, but also to Israel where it is vital and flourishing.
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