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date: 14 October 2019

Abstract and Keywords

The assumption that Israeli Hebrew literature has a unique and transformative significance in Israeli culture is argued sociologically, historically, theoretically, and aesthetically. It was only in the eighteenth century, with the Hebrew Enlightenment, the Haskalah, that secular Hebrew literature was able to develop. Before then, Jewish intellectual activity had been confined almost exclusively to religious writings. This literature grew in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries mainly in the areas of Jewish settlement in Eastern Europe. Today, there are over 3 million Hebrew-speakers in Israel alone. A flourishing literature is being written there in Hebrew, composed of fiction, poetry, and drama. The growth of the Hebrew language has contributed to the viability, and therefore to the adoption, of new literary genres. Modern Hebrew literature has established a clear national identity, responsive at last to its own territorial conditions, expressed in a literary language which is finally also a vernacular.

Keywords: Israeli culture, Hebrew Enlightenment, Haskalah, sacred Jewish texts, Israel, Hebrew-speakers

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