An Ideological Death

Paper Text – $34.95

ISBN 978-0-8101-4379-1

Cloth Text – $79.95

ISBN 978-0-8101-2978-8
Publication Date
August 2014
Page Count
280 pages
Trim Size
6 x 9

An Ideological Death

Suicide in Israeli Literature
Rachel S. Harris

An Ideological Death: Suicide in Israeli Literature examines literary challenges to Israel’s national narratives. The centrality of the army, the mythology of the New Jew, the vision of the first Israeli city, Tel Aviv, and the very process by which a nation’s history is constructed are confronted in fiction by many prominent Israeli writers.

Using the image of suicide, A. B. Yehoshua, Amos Oz, Etgar Keret, Yehudit Katzir, Alon Hilu, Yaakov Shabtai, Benjamin Tammuz, and Yehoshua Kenaz each engage in a critical and rhetorical process that examines the nation’s formation and reconsiders myths at the heart of the Zionist project. In Israeli literature, suicide represents a society’s compulsion to create impossible ideals that leave its populace disappointed and deluded. Yet as Rachel S. Harris shows, even at their harshest these writers also represent the idealism that helped build Israel as a modern nation-state.

About the Author

Rachel S. Harris is an assistant professor of Israeli literature and culture at the University of Illinois.


"This book constitutes a comprehensive study of the image of suicide in Israeli literature. It demonstrates, through a close reading of major texts, how critical stances are produced by literary images, and reveals the debate on Israeli masculinity as it intertwines with issues such as militarism and nationalism, the body, gender issues, intergenerational relations, and the Israeli landscape." —Israel Studies Review

“Rachel Harris’s surprising—and, some will find, deeply troubling—book asks why recent Israeli novelists use the narrative device of a central character’s suicide to raise fundamental questions about the changing nature of Israeli society. ... Everyone interested in the future of Israel should read her book.” —Cary Nelson, coeditor of The Case Against Academic Boycotts of Israel