SCANDINAVIAN LITERATURE
AND THE THEATRE

The lively interest shown by the Hebrew reading public for translated literature in general has been an important factor in the renaissance of the modern Hebrew language and literature that began in the late 1790s.

 

In spite of the fact that translations from the Scandinavian literature are far fewer than the translations from the “major” literature, which meant most for Hebrew culture (Russian, German, English and French, in that order) or the “minor” literature, which had a special importance for the Hebrew culture (namely Yiddish and Polish), the lively interest shown for the Scandinavian literature is quite remarkable.

 

The more than 270 titles of this bibliography extending over a period of almost 90 years starting in 1894 with a translation of Andersen’s tales into Hebrew, bear concrete witness to the Hebrew reader’s fascination with the literature of Scandinavia.  This remarkable fact is not as exceptional as it may at first seem to be.

 

Scandinavian writers like Herman Bang, Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson, Knut Hamsun, Henrik Ibsen, Jens Peter Jacobsen, Selma Lagerløf and August Strindberg (to name a few of the most prominent ones ), were translated almost immediately into the major continental languages and at the time of their publication their works were considered to be in the avant-garde of the contemporary literary scene.

 

In some cases the Scandinavian writers were even regarded with greater esteem in the rest of Europe than in their respective home countries. A large part of the works translated into Hebrew was indeed by these internationally recognized Scandinavians.

 

In light of the fact that the Hebrew letters adopted the literary standards, models and tastes of the cultures to which Jews had immediate access, namely Russian and to some extent Polish and German,  it is not surprising that Scandinavian works already available in the language of these cultures were to be translated into Hebrew.

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LITERA

TURE AND THEATRE

Collective identities grow from a sense of the past, and the theatre very forcefully participates in the ongoing representations of and debates about the past, sometimes by contesting them and sometimes by reinforcing them.

 

In his examination of the ways in which the theatre after World War II has presented different aspects of the French Revolution and the Holocaust, Freddie Rokem shows us that by "performing history" actors - as witnesses for the departed witnesses - bring the historical past and the theatrical present together.