Asaf Bartov (ijon) wrote,
Asaf Bartov

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Hebrew Book Week: The Spoils

Here's a list of the books I bought this week at the book fair. All are in Hebrew, but I give the English names for Hebrew originals and the original names for translated works.
  • I Wanted to Ask You, Prof. Leibowitz -- this is a collection of correspondence to and from the great Yeshayahu Leibowitz. I have a vague fascination with this unique man, and I've been meaning to get this book for some time now.
  • Blumenstrasse 22, by Ruvik Rosenthal -- a new novel by a thoughtful commentator on the Hebrew language. I've read good reviews of the book, and I'm curious to see this linguist's prose.
  • An American slang dictionary (English-Hebrew), by Ita Israeli. This I bought more out of support for her initiative than out of genuine need. I have a few English works on slang and idioms, and can get a lot of additional info on the net. Nevertheless, leafing through her book I was impressed with the work, and as it is self-published and reasonably priced, I decided to go for it.
  • 1949: The First Israelis, by Tom Segev. I've read and appreciated Segev's The Seventh Million -- an eye-opening book on Jews and later Israelis in Palestine and Israel during and after the Holocaust. I expect this one to be equally eye-opening about those murky days of the young State of Israel.

    Incidentally, do you realize that Israel is probably the only "western" country that does not teach its own history in its school system? Beside what passes for "general history" classes (and is woefully deficient, in my opinion), Israelis are taught a class called "History of the Jewish People", which is just that -- a (politically selective, naturally) history of Jews (including the implied axiom that there exists a single entity that can be called the Jewish people), highly focused on persecution and on anti-Semitism (and not, for instance, on Jewish culture, on Jewish society, etc.), up to the founding of the State of Israel, i.e. the fulfillment of the Zionist dream. That's the end of the material taught by Israeli schools. Practically nothing is taught of this State's history, except for repetitive, shallow discussions of the major wars (on symbolic dates, usually). Nothing is taught of the nature of the reign of Mapai (the Socialist party led by Ben-Gurion that ruled this State uninterrupted until 1977), of social conflicts in Israeli history, etc. This is yet another one of the preposterous deficiencies of the Israeli education system. *sigh*
  • L'Art du Roman and Les Testaments Trahis by Milan Kundera, two literary essay collections. An English translation of the latter was lent to me by avva and I found it interesting.
  • Carmina [Poems] by Catullus, translated into Hebrew by Rachel Birnbaum and David Weissert (both senior staff at the TAU Classics Dept.) I like Catullus. ygurvitz introduced me to him, years and years ago, through the poem known as "Catullus V", which I have recently translated. Birnbaum and Weissert do it better, of course, even while preserving the exact meter, unlike me. Translations from the classics are particular interests of mine in my study of the art of translation.
  • The Waning of the Middle Ages by Johan Huizinga (of Homo Ludens fame), translated from English [too bad] by Aharon Amir. ygurvitz commanded me to buy this one, and would not take no for an answer. I suspect he is intent on turning me into a Medievalist.
  • Metamorphoses by Ovid, translated by the grand master himself: Shlomo Dykman. I am still in awe of Dykman Sr.'s translations of Aeschylus and Sophocles. This plugs a significant hole in my Hebrew classics shelf, and is more study material for me.
  • The Autobiography of Joseph Stalin, by Richard Lourie, translated by Shimon Gelbetz. An excellent book I've already read, but it's time to return ygurvitz's copy to him...
  • The Courage to be Gifted by Erika Landau. When I was seven, I was taken to Landau, a psychologist and psychotherapist specializing in gifted children and problems of parenthood to such children, and was diagnosed as gifted. Consequently, I was (happily) sent (as was my sister, kritzit) to the "Science-seeking Youth" classes in which Landau was somehow involved. That interview at the age of seven, and the course of development I was put on following it, have determined much of who I am today, for better and for worse. I am interested in Landau's thoughts on the problems of the "gifted" situation.
  • Things That Are Better (Not) Kept Silent by Yitzhak Laor. This is a book of essays by Laor, a professor in TAU's General Theory of Literature Dept. Laor's writing is often annoying, but he is bold and challenging, and skimming the table of contents of this book convinced me to get it.
  • Plays 2 and Plays 3 by Hanoch Levin. I'm gradually purchasing Levin's entire collected plays series; I have volume 1 already.
  • Sevastopol by Lev Tolstoy, translated by Yaacov Steinberg. A classic translation by poet and author Steinberg, interesting primarily for the language and translation art.
  • Unto Death: The Story of a Crusade, by Amos Oz. A celebrated short novella by Oz. Confession time: I haven't read a single word by Oz yet.
  • Illustrated Stories (Heb: מעשה בשוטר, בסלט ובזנב פרה) by Nahum Gutman. Gutman was a painter who wrote some wondrous children literature and light prose, and is one of my enduring childhood loves.
  • The Employer and His Worker (sorry about the lame name, the English title page does not offer the original Russian), by Lev Tolstoy, translated by Yossef Haim Brenner. Again, a classic translation by a master of Hebrew prose.
  • El Licenciado Vidriera by Miguel de Cervantes, translated by Fabiana Hefetz. A collection of novellas.
The latter five were all published by Babel Publishing in their Tarmil re-issue series. Practically all of the books (with the possible exception of the Leibowitz book) were quite reasonably priced.

Surely, friends, you agree that this is a modest crop, and that I have exhibited remarkable self-restraint.

I probably should, however, mention that I also purchased a deluxe, modern encyclopedia of the Bible (Old Testament, of course), in 24 high-quality volumes. I leafed through a volume and saw that it was good, and I've been meaning to get that encyclopedia ever since it came out, having read good reviews of it, and being in need of a good general aggregation of current Biblical criticism for several of my pursuits, including our Bible reading group and my occasional attempts at translation.

I am generally content, and would not feel obliged to make another visit to the fair, if only we had not had to rush off to Shalev's lecture, missing the Schocken stalls... *sigh*

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