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Heinrich Heine and the Spaces of Zionist Literature
In her penetrating new study, Na’ama Rokem observes that prose writing—more than poetry, drama, or other genres—came to signify a historic rift that resulted in loss and disenchantment. In Prosaic Conditions, Rokem treats prose as a signifying practice—that is, a practice that creates meaning. During the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, prose emerges in competition with other existing practices, specifically, the practice of performance. Using Zionist literature as a test case, Rokem examines the ways in which Zionist authors put prose to use, both as a concept and as a literary mode. Writing prose enables these authors to grapple with historical, political, and spatial transformations and to understand the interrelatedness of all of these changes.
"Rokem’s book offers a powerful reassessment of both the legacy of Heine in Hebrew literature and the aesthetic challenges that Zionist authors faced in producing a national prose fiction from, ultimately, the pragmatic conditions of diaspora. At times the two arguments appear to run parallel to each other, but Rokem brings them into direct conversation in the conclusion." —H-Net