This is a banner year for Lea Goldberg, who died in 1970 and would be one hundred years old today. Goldberg, one of the classic Israeli poets of the modern era, is well known to English readers through the work of many different translators. Goldberg is not as well known as a novelist, but Barbara Harshav has published a new translation of her novel And This Is the Light, originally published in Hebrew in 1946. This translation, published by Toby Press, serves as a fitting companion to their other fine Goldberg publication, Selected Poetry and Drama by Lea Goldberg, poetry translated by Rachel Tzvia Back and drama by T. Carmi. This semi-autobiographical novel was not well received when it was first published, but with renewed interest in Goldberg’s complete oeuvre the publication in English of this neglected novel is timely. Goldberg’s spare style of language, familiar to students of her poetry, is evident in this novel as well. Partly a coming-of-age story, and partly a story of struggling with identity and anti-Semitism in Lithuania in 1931, the novel expresses Goldberg’s ambivalence about her own sense of belonging. This rich and lyrical novel is worth a read purely on its own merits. The language feels alive and supple, a tribute to Harshav’s careful translation. Yet And This Is the Light is also an important piece of Israeli history, one of the first Hebrew novels written by a woman.
And This Is The Light
Hara E. Person was ordained by Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion. She is a writer and editor.
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