Hasidism, Haskalah, Zionism reveals how political and literary dialogues and conflicts between the Hebrew literature of the Hasidism, the Jewish Enlightenment, and Zionism interacted with each other in the nineteenth century. Hannan Hever uses postcolonial theories and theories of nationality to analyze how Jews used literature to make sense of hostility directed toward Jews from their European “host” countries and to set forth their own ideas and preferences regarding their status, control, and treatment. In doing so, Hever theorizes the Enlightenment’s intellectual aims and cultural influences, tracking how the models of integration crucial to Haskalah gave way to Jewish nationalism in the twentieth century.
The readings in this book are theoretically informed, setting forward novel claims based on detailed textual analyses of hasidic tales, Haskalah satires, and Zionist narratives. Thus, this book tackles a major interpretative problem visible at the core of modern Hebrew literature—its radical difficulty in distinguishing between the theological components of modern Jewish discourse and its national identity.
Hannan Hever is the Jacob and Hilda Blaustein Professor of Hebrew Language and Literature at Yale University. He is the author of several books, including Producing the Modern Hebrew Canon.
"In a series of stunning textual analyses, Hannan Hever reassesses the relationship between Hasidism and the Haskalah, replacing the pervasive assumption of a simple conflictual dichotomy with a multi-dimensional analysis of a rich and complex relationship in which maskilic and hasidic authors articulated imbricated versions of a shared language and religious tradition."
~David Sorkin, Yale University