Yehuda Amichai is an Israeli poet of international distinction. Known as Israel's "master poet," Amichai conveys a portrait of life in modern Israel, summarizing and reflecting all the major preoccupations of his generation. Unlike most of his Israeli contemporaries he explores the alteration of Jewish perspectives, the loss of religious orthodoxy and the nature of Jewish identity in the mid-20th century. He illuminates the dislocation of Jewish life after the Holocaust and the dilemma of response on the part of young Israelis. His poetic language is rich in figuration and laced with quotations from classical Jewish texts which he manipulates into ironic discourse with the problems of the present. Echoing the 17th-century metaphysical poets, Amichai's writing reveals a tussle between physical love and spirituality; its tension lies in his failure to synthesize both in religious faith.
Abramson presents a detailed critical description and thematic analysis of Amichai's work, with reference to the historical background from which it has emerged. The problems of an emerging national culture are seen subjectively through the eyes of one of its most sensitive and perceptive literary observers.
"This is a solid and competent piece of scholarship." -- Naomi Sokoloff, University of Washington
Glenda Abramson is Teacher of modern Hebrew literature at the University of Oxford; Schreiber Fellow in Modern Jewish Studies, Oxford Center for Hebrew Studies; and Senior Research Fellow, St. Cross College, Oxford University.
Yehuda Amichai was born in Wurzburg, Germany, on May 3, 1924 and emigrated with his family to Palestine in 1936. He later became a naturalized Israeli citizen. Although German was his native language, Amichai read Hebrew fluently by the time he moved to Palestine. He served in the Jewish Brigade of the British Army in World War II and fought with the Israeli defense forces in the 1948 Arab-Israeli war. Following the war, he attended Hebrew University to study Biblical texts and Hebrew literature, and then taught in secondary schools.
Amichai has published eleven volumes of poetry in Hebrew, two novels, and a book of short stories. His work has been translated into thirty-seven languages. His collections of poetry available in English include Open Closed Open (Harcourt Brace, 2000); The Selected Poetry of Yehuda Amichai: Newly Revised and Expanded Edition (1996); A Life of Poetry, 1948-1994 (1995); Even a Fist Was Once an Open Palm with Fingers (1989); Poems of Jerusalem (1988); The Great Tranquility: Questions and Answers (1983); Love Poems (1981); Time (1979); Amen (1977); Songs of Jerusalem and Myself (1973); and Poems (1969). In 1982, Amichai received the Israel Prize for Poetry and he became a foreign honorary member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 1986. He lived in Jerusalem until his death on September 25, 2000.
A Selected Bibliography
Not of This Time, Not of This Place (1963)
The World Is a Room and Other Stories (1984)
Poetry in Translation
A Life of Poetry 1948-1994 (1995)
Even a Fist Was Once an Open Palm with Fingers: Recent Poems (1991)
Exile at Home (1998)
I Am Sitting Here Now (1994)
Love Poems (1981)
On New Year's Day, Next to a House Being Built (1979)
Open Closed Open: Poems (2000)
Poems of Jerusalem: A Bilingual Edition (1988)
Poems: English and Hebrew (1994)
Selected Poems (1968)
Selected Poems of Yehuda Amichai (1971)
Songs of Jerusalem and Myself (1973)
The Early Books of Yehuda Amichai (1988)
The Great Tranquility: Questions and Answers (1997)
The Selected Poetry of Yehuda Amichai (1986)
Travels of the Last Benjamin of Tudela (1976)