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La traduction dans les cultures plurilingues

Francis Mus
Karen Vandemeulebroucke
Lieven D’Hulst
et al.

Espaces plurilingues

Re-reading multiple-language cultures with the help of translated popular novels

Nitsa Ben-Ari

Texte intégral

1. Introduction

1A multiple-language community can be reduced to a single-language community, without losing its multi-faced nature. My essay is an attempt at following two cases where popular novels helped transcend language and culture frontiers. In a proposed journey in time the popular novel will be revealed as opening a circle and closing it, serving two opposing tendencies, first enhancing Zionist ideology, then undermining its very foundation.

2The popular novel, trivial as it may be, has proved to be a fascinating field of study, in that its very triviality on the one hand, and massive distribution on the other, lends it to a variety of socio-political functions. For reasons explained below, it was the popular novel, and translations thereof, that played a most vital part in the emergence of a new national Hebrew literature, more particularly in the building of a national repertory of heroes, symbols and motifs. The process started in the late 1830s and reached a peak in the 1880s, incidentally the year when the first pioneers began to emigrate to pre-state Israel.

3About a hundred years after the emergence of the popular historical novel, in the late 1930s, subversive popular literature in the form of detective stories, thrillers, science fiction, romance and erotica began to flourish in the periphery in pre-state then post-state Israel. Undermining Zionist values such as socialism, sublimation or communal interest, it enhanced private, bourgeois values. Disregarding New Jew principles and preferences, it appropriated models from cultures that were rejected or scorned by the mainstream, and attended to non-sabra readers. Disregarding elitist Hebrew literature, as well as attempts of culture planners to control “proper” literature for the masses, it answered the demand of the market.

4Let me briefly describe the two trends, on the background of – on the one hand – the multicultural character of the involved, and – on the other – the ongoing search for a national identity in a multicultural society. Although the test case is that of Hebrew literature, the focal point is its relation with the multi-faced cultures involved, thus the conclusions may apply to many other cultural cases.

2. First German-Jewish (popular) novel

  • 1 For the emergence of the German-Jewish historical novel see Ben-Ari 1997a (in German translation Be (...)

5Introducing the novel genre to Hebrew literature in the first half of the 19th century was a difficult task: one must bear in mind that it was a brand new secular literature, awakening with the Enlightenment, where the most venerated literary genres were Enlightenment favorites like drama, poetry, and fables. But the 19th century, the era of historiography and of awakening nationalism, was also the era of the novel. With the success of Walter Scott’s Waverley Novels of 1814, Germany, as the whole of Europe, was swept with unparalleled Scottomania, followed by various types of appropriation of the historical novel. First came translations, imitations, adaptations. Then – in three major waves – German historical novels. In the third phase, beginning with, Bismark’s famous Kulturkampf, historiography, and with it the historical novel, were mobilized to the overall effort of the unification of Germany. Between 1850 and 1875 about 816 historical novels were written in Germany, more often than not with the subtitle Vaterlandischer Roman [Novels of the Fatherland, or patriotic novels], The novel then became at the same time more nationalistic/Germanic and since it was based, as it were, on historical research, it acquired a scientific hue and was often dubbed “Professorenromanen”. Such was for instance Victor von Scheffel’s Ekkehart from 1855, published in 173 editions until 1900, 171 of them after the unification of Germany (1869)1.

  • 2 First to undertake this formidable task was Isaac Markus Jost (1793-1860), one of the outstanding m (...)

6Within this context, German Jews found themselves in a State of conflict: they were in the process of fighting for equal rights, a prolonged struggle for emancipation which entailed a move out of the Ghetto, physically and mentally. They were, for the first time, writing the history of Jews in the world2, and researching their culture and tradition with scientific tools. They were torn between the need to modify and update tradition and the fear of changing a word of the Law. Several camps represented this inner struggle: the Orthodox – extreme in their resistance to change; the Neo-orthodox – willing to modify and update tradition in small ways; the Reform – ready to make more drastic changes such as translating prayer-books into German or introducing organ-music and choir to the temple; and the Extreme Reform camp – ready to make the most concessions in updating Judaism.

7The historical novel did not catch the attention of the Jewish leading writers until it was in its third, most nationalistic Germanic phase in mid-century. The reasons for the prolonged rejection were embedded in the somewhat stubborn opinion that the popular novel was trash, cheap scandalous literature for housemaids, damaging the morals of youth. Gradually, however, Jewish leaders of the Reform camp were beginning to realize that this para-historical genre was a powerful vehicle to mobilize to their needs. And once they have adopted it, with great success, the Neo-orthodox camp followed suit.

8Their formal excuses for introducing the “scandalous” genre were mostly didactic:

(a) The historical novel could be accepted as an extended form of biography, a respectable didactic genre. By telling the story of a great man, you can set a model for behavior for youth to follow.

(b) It was a pleasant form of teaching history.

  • 3 See Rabbi Cohen’s waming, quite explicit in Abraham Giger’s Wissenschaftliche Zeitschriften fürJüdi (...)

(c) Jewish youth, already admitted to German schools, was liable to read the German historical novels and be negatively influenced. Thus it was of urgent necessity to write appropriate Jewish novels as a counterpart3.

  • 4 See Katz 1973 for the description of the “out of the Ghetto” process. For the antagonism contempora (...)

(d) Stories about contemporary Jewish life, written by Karl Emil Franzos, Aron Bernstein or Leopold Kompert, describing Jews barely out of the Ghetto, began to gain popularity, painting Jews in somewhat ridiculous colors. The fact that non-Jewish German readers liked to read them as well only made them more despicable to those who endeavored to change the image of Jews and Judaism4.

9What these culture shapers in fact realized, was that with the help of the remote historical setting they could introduce new images, without arousing too much of an outcry. Ideas of change and reform which they would be reluctant to raise in their publicist writing could be instilled into popular literature, infiltrating through the “back door” so to speak. And since youth was the hope of the future, what better readership than the new generation?

  • 5 Hermann Reckendorf’s Geheimnisse der Juden (1856) was a prose description of the descendants of the (...)

10Intent on being loyal German citizens, they had a problem choosing source cultures to translate from. French literature would have been their preference, for Napoleon was the first European ruler to introduce emancipation ideas concerning the Jews. Germany used to look up to France for models and genres, and at the time when German-Jewish literature discovered the merits of the popular novel, Eugène Sue (1804-1857), for example, was one of the most popular novelists in Europe5. But the Napoleonic wars had turned France into the avowed enemy. English historical novels such as Scott’s Ivanhoe were a possible model – but though the beautiful Rebecca was a romantic figure, her father Isaac of York, was a usurer. Grace Aguilar’s Cedar Valley, Disraeli’s Tancred or George Eliot’s Daniel Deronda were “dangerous”, as they openly propagated a solution for the Jewish problem in the retum to Zion, a notion German Jewry refused to adopt, for fear it would undermine their image as loyal German citizens. In fact, a great part of their effort in updating Judaism had been invested in suppressing its nationalistic features. The German historical novel, becoming more and more Germanic as the century progressed, excluded them. For sources, they had to turn to their own ancient culture, and to their own history, now being researched by the new outstanding scholars of the Wissenschaft des Judentums, a task canonized by Herder’s legitimation of ancient cultures.

11Indeed, the novels were acclaimed enthusiastically by youth, who read about the feats of past Jewish heroes such as the Maccabees with glowing cheeks and beating hearts, awaiting the next installment impatiently. The writers were community leaders and teachers, well known in Germany. Among them were: Dr. Ludwig Philippson, of Magdeburg, a most influential leader of the central Reform camp; Dr. Meir Marcus Lehmann, of Mainz, a leading figure in the Neo-orthodox camp; Dr. Isaac Asher Francolm of Koenigsberg (who preferred to write under the German sounding pen-name Eugen Rispart), also of the Reform camp; Hermann Reckendorf, of Leipzig, of the extreme Reform, a renowned scholar in Semitic languages, first translater of the Koran into Hebrew. These men devoted hours to writing learned essays and articles on religious, cultural and political topics, and yet were prolific writers of historical novels. As often occurs in the case of culture planners, they were but a few, but they had influential tools at their disposai. The two main adversaries, both prominent community leaders, Lehmann and Philippson, were editors of powerful journals: the AZJ (Allgemeine Zeitung des Judentums), which Philippson founded and edited for no less than 50 years, and Der Israelit, Lehmann’s Neo-orthodox journal. Both journals were not confined to Germany alone, they were avidly read by German speaking Jews throughout Central Europe, reaching Jewish communities in Western Europe as well. They introduced the novelty of the literary “Feuilleton”, where serialized historical novels and stories were published in installments. The multi-lingual multiculturel Jewish world of Western and Eastern Europe was vast and distanced, and at the same time a smaller entity than we imagine today. In both Central and Eastem Europe the popular historical stories and novels created an inventory of Jewish heroes, aired and modernized old customs and beliefs, legitimized ancient Hebrew culture and evoked a new national pride. For the first time since going into exile, Jews became aware of their existence as an entity in the world.

12With the readership the two main organs divided between them, the fame of the novels soon spread. The historical novels were immediately translated/ adapted into Hebrew and Yiddish in Eastem Europe, where there was no sign of emancipation and where antisemitism and multiplying pogroms promoted the revival of the Return to Zion dream. The translations, being done under such different circumstances and for such different goals, took many liberties with the source texts. The main difference was that while the German-Jewish historical novel did its best to suppress national elements in Judaism, the East European adaptations amplified them. The German-Jewish and East European models were reinforced by the philo-semitic English novels mentioned above, all contributing to the Hebrew Revival and the development of early Zionism. Many youthful pioneers who had immigrated to Eretz Israel in fact confessed that they had found the inspiration to emigrate in those very books. So did for instance Eliezer Ben-Yehuda (1858-1922), acknowledged as the father of the revival of the Hebrew language. In the various Hebrew journals he contributed to or founded in the early 1880s (such as Havazelet, Mevaseret Zion or Ha’tzevi) he continued to publish translated/adapted and original historical novels, which became part of the literary and cultural infrastructure of school and preschool textbooks.

3. The popular novel in Israel

  • 6 Şehnaz Tahir Gürçağlar (2008: 238) describes a State where central norms were formed in Turkey betw (...)

13In the early 20th century the popular novel in Hebrew was no less a novelty. Cheap novels still had a doubtful reputation. Young, puritanical, and ideologically mobilized Hebrew literature was elitist in nature, and culture planners who controlled it were keen on selecting the most “proper” world literature for translation6. Books would be scanned for proper themes, ideology and style. Realistic, socialistic, classical Works would be pre-selected, with the same didactic goals so dear to the second generation Enlightenment (Z. Shavit 1998a: 46-53). Culture planners did not neglect the masses, picking world literature that would answer the needs of the working classes, who, in fact were their most avid readers (Y. Shavit 338-9). In the revolutionary new culture, where everything old had to be done away with and everything was to begin from nil, Old World languages and cultures had to give way to the new. The new, on the other hand did not really exist: under the melting pot ideology, all popular cultural domains had to be re-invented, including a popular culture for the working classes, according to British or German models: popular Israeli dance, popular Israeli songs, popular costumes, popular customs, popular food. The New Jew had to be invented, to replace the effeminate Diaspora Jew. The old world of the Ghetto, especially the loathed Yiddish language symbolizing it, had to be obliterated. A two-thousand year bridge had to lead directly from the new bom Israeli back to his Biblical ancestors, leaving a cultural void in between. What culture planners neglected to take into account, however, was (a) that diglotic existence of bicultural and tricultural entities had been an acceptable option for Jewish life in the Diaspora for hundreds of years; (b) that not all new immigrants were ready to sever the ties with these multi-cultural traditions; and (c) that spontaneous mass culture would spring from within, with no regard either for the New Jew, or for ideological mobilization and didactic purposes.

14It took some time for the sociological conditions to evolve that would permit the introduction of mass literature into pre-state Israel, and this only happened with the development of cities, where the bourgeoisie, comprising East European, mostly Polish Jews, as well as Jews from Central Europe, was very much present and held most of the (physical and fiscal) property. As far as politics or cultural shaping were concerned, this middle class group manifested helplessness in a period when the Zionist hegemony was established and the Zionist primate that became the official state’s ideology took over. Marginalizing them, disregarding their large number, may have been erroneous; it may have been a necessity, since they envisaged life in Tel Aviv as in a Middle-Eastern Warsaw. However, it was then, in the 1930s and 1940s that conditions could be established favorable to the formation, publication and distribution of cheap popular literature (Y. Shavit 1986: 201-210). Simultaneously, it was then that immigrants arrived in large numbers to form a readership for this production.

15Massive immigration, mainly from Arab-speaking countries, in the years following the establishment of the State (1948-1953) saw to it that the melting-pot policy was applied with redoubled zeal. After all, we should bear in mind that in the first ten years of its existence, more than half of the population of the State of Israel could not speak Hebrew, a condition inconceivable to culture shapers. Mobilized (and self-mobilized) literature, more than any other cultural means, was the vehicle deemed best for severing the ties with the past and expressing the here and now. But severing ties with the past creates a vacuum culture cannot abide with, and despite the mainstream efforts to fill in the gap with high and low institutionalized culture that would turn a “pre-civilized folk” into a nation, authentic massive popular literature, mostly imported from countries of origin, sprang from within.

  • 7 See Toury (1995: 40-52) on the role of pseudotranslation, to which I add the socio-political power (...)

16Since it was not imposed from above, this mass production had to be subversive. It did not address the Sabra [native-bom Israeli], nor did it parade New Jew images. It was, in fact, a continuation of the Old Jew. It sprang in two main periods. In the 1930s-40s, it took up Yiddish as a source culture, as the old-time mediator between the Jewish world and European popular culture. In canonic Hebrew literature and culture, any vestige of Yiddish had to be erased, and its penetration into Hebrew literature and language was fought off in every possible way (Y. Shavit 1986: 201). In the periphery, this norm was irrelevant. The popular novels published subversively under the influence of Yiddish were considered scandalous. They were not always sold in bookstores as were mainstream books; most were distributed in alternative ways in the colportage tradition or in kiosks and market stalls. Their notoriety was growing with the change of their readership. Whereas in the 1930s-1940s it was still “bon ton” for youngsters to admit to having read pulp fiction – especially detective stories – in secret (Rosenbaum 1999 [1983]: 9; Z. Shavit 1998b: 475), in the 1950s and 1960s, with massive waves of immigration from Arab speaking countries, mainstream reaction to them worsened. The second period disrupted with Yiddish and turned to other sources for its repertory. The new immigrants now wanted to read Agatha Christie, Erle Stanley Gardner and Ellery Queen, which they knew from home7. They wanted to read banned books such as Fanny Hill. Hollywood movies (abhorred by critics and pedagogues) became popular, and youth wanted to read Margaret Mitchel’s Gone with the Wind or Grace Metalious’s Peyton Place. Hebrew youth was not supposed to buy cheap American bestsellers, nor read Westerns or erotic books, and would not admit to it in reading polls, but the books were read by thousands (Ben-Ari 2006a: 146; Weissbrod 1989).

17A wave of pseudotranslations followed. Semi-pornographic thrillers written by an Israeli did not seem authentic, and the pseudonyms adopted were mostly English-sounding. Some pseudotranslations, such as the Machista [Maciste] or Patrick Kim serials, got their inspiration from cheap American/Italian movie productions, portraying macho male figures – in the first case ancient Roman figures endowed with Herculean strength, in the second, a Korean-American karate expert.

18Subversive productions enjoyed much liberty in defying the norm. Pseudotranslations, ensuring anonymity, on the one hand, and lack of interest of the censorious mainstream on the other, allowed for publications of the famous banned books for instance, those pronounced obscene by puritanical Western culture. The first translations of Lawrence’s Lady Chatterley ’s Lover, Miller’s Tropic of Cancer, or Nabokov’s Lolita were published in the periphery in the early 1960s.

19Mass production in the periphery was subversive in yet another aspect: many of its agents (producers, publishers, translators, writers, pseudotranslators) belonged to the political opposition, whether of the extreme Left or the extreme Right. I found it out by chance, when interviewing participants in the popular book industry, and eventually understood that political dissidents of extreme right-wing and left-wing, rejected by the mainstream for their subversive activity in underground organizations fighting both the British Mandatory Rule and Arab growing violence, had no choice but to study “free professions”. Having spent many years of their youth “in the ranks”, most had no time or money to train for them, so many reverted to the world of newspapers and publishing. Their Revisionist orientation was accompanied by right-wing economic notions of free market, profit, offer and demand – all notions despised by socialist mainstream publishing, heavily subsidized by political institutions, and therefore not preoccupied with these “shallow” bourgeois notions. It was when subsidies began to die out, in the 1970s, that mainstream publishing became aware of the prosperous activity in the periphery, and gradually consented to publish popular literature of ail types. Normal stratification followed, the literary and cultural System underwent a change of norms, and became more receptive to the possibility of hybridity, of a multi-cultural multi-lingual society, yielding, in fact, to the Old Jew, a multicultural being.

4. Some general reflections

20Although, on the face of it, popular literature and especially pulp fiction seemed to be a secondary, perhaps negligible force in the modem making of a nation, studying it from the perspective I offered enables a much deeper understanding of its function. What I have presented here, in broad generalization, is the wave-like movement lead by popular literature, first towards establishing a national identity then towards undermining it. Let me sum up the main points in the two contradictory processes:

  • Both processes took place in multi-cultured multiple-language communities.

  • In both cases the cultural agents were dealing with introducing novelty.

  • Both processes started in the margins, with the major difference that the one was initiated by culture planners, unwillingly so to speak, when forced by necessity, but with hidden subversive motives, while the other was a subversive spontaneous move, antagonistic to culture planning.

  • It follows, that the people who wrote/translated popular novels in 19th- century Central and Eastem Europe were eminent public figures and cultural agents, people of status and talent, while, in the second period in Israel, the work was sometimes “left over” to, or undertaken by, smalltime publishers, writers, or translators.

  • The German-Jews who started writing historical novels were subversive in that they used the genre to tackle issues they would not have tackled openly in their over-the-counter polemic or publicist writing. This subversive streak, however, was well hidden under the pretext of writing about historical facts or moralizing about the lives of venerable heroes. The writers who chose to go against the stream in Israel were subversive in more than one sense: they wrote/translated/ published “cheap” often scandalous genres, and, moreover, they often belonged to the political opposition of the mainstream Ben-Gurionist Labor party.

  • Hence, the 19th century writers of historical novels were not trying to hide their identity, while those who wrote popular “cheap” literature in the 20th century often wrote/translated/published under pseudonyms.

  • The readership in the case of popular historical novels were Jewish-German women and youth to begin with. Very quickly, however, the writers/translators often having major periodicals to propagate their work, the novels seeped through to all parts of the population in all of Central and Eastem Europe. In pre-state and post-state Israel the readership first consisted of new immigrants and bourgeois readers, soon spreading to a larger, general public.

  • The historical novel, being written by community leaders and men of letters, was read openly. It was often handed out as a bonus to subscribers of the journals. On the other hand, the popular novels of the 1930-1960s were ignored, if not attacked by community leaders and men of letters, and were considered trash. They were read clandestinely, and in spite of the huge number of sales, reading-habit polls do not account for them.

  • Style and language registers were relatively elevated in both cases. However, the 19th century texts, written/translated by talented people, were well-written. Marginal popular literature in Israel was often left in the hands of non-professionals and were written amateurishly. The few people of talent and ability who started in the periphery would more often than not “promote” themselves to “higher” literature, and only in some rare cases participate in both high and low productions. Publishers of cheap popular novels would normally not invest time or money in revision or copy-editing. Style would usually be a (poor) imitation of the elevated literary language of the mainstream. But since the periphery was also a place for innovation, it allowed for experimentation with colloquialism or slang.

  • As for source literature models: in the first period, because of certain political constraints and restrictions, the cultures Jewish writers could appropriate from were limited; in the second, mainstream source cultures were preselected according to prevailing norms, which were totally disregarded by popular literature, where selection was dominated by market demands.

  • This angle of presentation seems to misrepresent and seemingly diminish the role of – indeed the achievements of – translated literature in the mainstream. However much has been said about the contribution of translated literature to the infrastructure of mainstream Hebrew literature and culture, I would like to stress, again, that from the start it has been the laboratory for experimentation with a renewed/ revived language, and the inexhaustible source for genres and styles. The greatest Hebrew poets and authors have participated in it, in the Diaspora and then in Israel. This is not to be disregarded, not only because of its historical and cultural contribution, but because it accounts for the power of the marginalization of the popular genres in the second period. The fact that marginalized popular literature could survive and to some extent thrive under these conditions is proof of its vitality and perhaps authenticity. However, since popular literature has been pushed aside to be translated/written by marginal figures, the results for the mainstream, as I showed in my 2006 research, have been the neglect of a whole stratum of Hebrew literary language and style,
    a neglect felt until today.

    • 8 To use Even-Zohar’s (2002) argumentation, the planned culture could be successfully imposed only wh (...)

    In all, the process of the gradual acceptance of popular literature into Hebrew culture could be seen as a process of normalization. In Even-Zohar’s terms, it could be seen as a process in which a rigid literary and cultural System, risking petrifaction, was forced to healthy stratification. In Y. Shavit’s terms, following Even-Zohar, the healthy literary System would have found a way of dividing production between center and periphery (Y. Shavit 1986: 209-210). Yet, it could also be conceived of as a process of regression. In which case, as I see it, culture planning succeeded when it had appealed to multitudes in Central and Eastem Europe, then failed, at least partially, when trying to impose a monolingual monocultural ideological ethos on a multiculturel society8. With the risk of amplifying ad absurdum the role of mass literature in this wavelike process, one could drive this a step further and say that, metaphorically, culture planning succeeded when using popular literature as a subversive tool, then failed, when attempting to ignore/suppress its subversive power.



Ben-Ari Nitsa, Roman im He’Avar: Ha’roman Ha’histori Ha’yehudi-Germani min Ha ’mea Ha-19 U ’tzmichata shel SifrutLeumit Hadasha (Romance with the Past: The Nineteenth-Century German-Jewish Historical Novel and the Emergence of a National Literature), Tel Aviv/Dvir/Jerusalem, Leo Baeck, 1997a.

– , « The Jewish Historical Novel Helps to Reshape the Historical Consciousness of German Jews » in J. Zipes & S. L. Gilman (eds), Yale Companion to Jewish Writing and Thought in German Culture, 1096-1996, Yale, Yale University Press, 1997b, p. 143-151.

– , Suppression of the Erotic in Modern Hebrew Literature, Ottawa, Ottawa University Press, 2006a.

– , Romanze mit der Vergangenheit: Der deutsch-jüdisch historische Roman des 19. Jahrhunderts und seine Bedeutung für die Entstehung einer Jüdischen Nationalliteratur, Dr. Dafna Mach (transi.), Coditio Judaica 58, Tübingen, Niemeyer Verlag, 2006b.

Eggert Hartmut, Studien zur Wirkungsgeschichte des deutschen Romans 1850-1875, Frankfurt am Main, Klostermann, 1971.

Even-Zohar Itamar, « Who Is Afraid of Hebrew Culture? », Papers in Culture Research,, 2005.

– , « Cultural Planning and Cultural Resistance in the Making and Maintaining of Entities », 2002, in

Gamerschlag Kurt, Sir Walter Scott und die Waverley Novels. Eine Übersicht liber der Gang der Scottsforschung von den Anfängen bis heute, Darmstadt, Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, 1978.

Geppert Hans Vilmar, Der andere historische Roman, Tübingen, Niemeyer, 1976.

Horch Hans Otto, Auf der Suche nach der jüdischen Erzählliteratur: Die Literaturkritik der Allgemeine Zeitung des Judentums (1837-1922), Frankfurt am Main, Peter Lang, 1985.

Johnston Otto W., Der Deutsche Nationalmythos: Ursprung eines politischen Programms, Stuttgart, Metzler, 1990.

Katz Jacob, Out of the Ghetto, Cambridge Massachussets, Harvard University Press, 1973.

Rosenbaum Gabriel M., « Ha’roman Ha’zair: Popular Hungarian Literature from Budapest to Tel-Aviv », 1999 [1983], Kesher 26 Nov., p. 88-107. [Hebrew]

Schulze Hagen, The Course of German Nationalism from Frederick the Great to Bismark 1763-1867, S. Hanbury-Tension (transl.), Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1991.

Shavit Zohar, « The Status of Translated Literature in the Creation of Hebrew Literature in Pre-State Israel », Meta, 1998a, XLIII: 1, p. 46-53.

– , The Construction of Hebrew Culture in Eretz Israel, first volume in The History of the Jewish Community in Eretz Israel since 1882, 1998b, Jerusalem, Israeli Academy of Sciences and Mosad Bialik. [Hebrew]

Shavit Yaacov, « Warsaw/Tel-Aviv – Yiddish and Hebrew: Between mass literature and mass culture », Ha-Sifrut/Literature, 1986, 3-4 (35-36), p. 201-210. [Hebrew]

– , « Supplying a Missing System – Between Official and Unofficial Popular Culture in Hebrew National Culture in Eretz-Israel » in Benjamin Z. Kedar (ed.), Studies in the History of Popular Culture, Jerusalem, The Zalman Shazar Center for Jewish History, 1996, p. 327- 346. [Hebrew]

Shedletzky Itta, Literaturdiskussion und Belletristik in den judischen Zeitschriften in Deutschland 1837-1918, Jerusalem, 1986.

Tahir Gürçağlar Șehnaz, The Politics and Poetics of Translation in Turkey 1923- 1960, Approaches to Translation Studies, 2008.

Toury Gideon, Descriptive Translation Studies and Beyond, Amsterdam/Philadelphia, John Benjamins, 1995.

Weissbrod Rachel, Tendencies in Translation of English Prose into Hebrew 1958-1980, Tel Aviv, Tel Aviv University, 1989. [Ph. D. Dissertation, Hebrew]


1 For the emergence of the German-Jewish historical novel see Ben-Ari 1997a (in German translation Ben-Ari 2006b). A concise English version thereof is Ben-Ari 1997b. For the German historical novel and its mobilization see Eggert, 1971, 27, 207. For the German reception of Scott see Gamerschlag, 1978. Also: Geppert 1976. For the Kulturkampf and growing national feeling in 19th century Germany see Schulze 1991; Johnston 1990.

2 First to undertake this formidable task was Isaac Markus Jost (1793-1860), one of the outstanding members of the Wissenschat des Judentums [literally “Science of Judaism”], followed, in the second half of the century, by Heinrich Graetz (1817-1891). Pioneer among researchers of the history of Jewish literature and culture was Leopold Zunz (1794-1886).

3 See Rabbi Cohen’s waming, quite explicit in Abraham Giger’s Wissenschaftliche Zeitschriften fürJüdische Theologie from 1939 (quoted in Shedletzky 1986: 95-6).

4 See Katz 1973 for the description of the “out of the Ghetto” process. For the antagonism contemporary Ghetto stories aroused in the community leaders of the Reform movement, see for instance Shedletzky, (1986: 115).

5 Hermann Reckendorf’s Geheimnisse der Juden (1856) was a prose description of the descendants of the House of David along the centuries, written according to the model of Sue’s Mystères du Peuple (1842-3).

6 Şehnaz Tahir Gürçağlar (2008: 238) describes a State where central norms were formed in Turkey between 1930-1950, according to which translated works had to be instrumental in the development of Turkish literature and assist the cultural and educational development of the readership. The similarities are striking, since the young republic, though not re-inventing an ancient language, introduced a revolutionary alphabet reform in 1928.

7 See Toury (1995: 40-52) on the role of pseudotranslation, to which I add the socio-political power of democratizing literature. Tahir Gürçaglar (2008: 201-230) describes a similar taste for translations and especially pseuodotranslations of certain popular genres in the young republic of Turkey between 1923-1960. Not accidentally, one of the major publishers of popular novels in the periphery in Israel of the 1950s-1960s was Meir Mizrahi, an immigrant from Turkey.

8 To use Even-Zohar’s (2002) argumentation, the planned culture could be successfully imposed only when people felt there was gain for them in accepting it.


Chair, Diploma Studies for Translation and Revision. The Porter School of Cultures Studies. Tel-Aviv University, Israël.

© Artois Presses Université, 2011

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