Meaning of YEAR IN REVIEW 1996: LITERATURE: JEWISH in English

JEWISH: Yiddish. Among new publications was Moyshe Bernshteyn's Shlofloze nekht ("Sleepless Nights"), a volume of elegiac poems. The verse in Eli Beyder's Troymen un vor ("Dreams and Reality") was evocative and autobiographical. The anthology A libe-regn ("A Shower of Love"), by Mikhal Felzenbaum, demonstrated a meditative spirit. Daniel Galay hovered over his subjects with brief but penetrating reflections in Oyer-siluetn ("Audio-Silouettes"). The poet Ktsiye Ratner-Margolin's Oyf mayne vegn fun vander ("On My Wandering Path") provided an array of settings for her interior monologue. Aleksander Royzin wrote of Jewish life under Soviet rule in Mayne lider, vi di toybn ("My Poems, Like Doves"). Aaron Kramer translated and edited a bilingual anthology of Dore Taytlboym's poems, Ale mayne nekhtn zaynen shtign ("All My Yesterdays Were Steps"). Among prose works Nyu-yorker adresn ("New York Addresses") included more than 20 short stories by Yoni Fayn. The prose sketches, tales, and short novel in Shire Gorshman's Vi tsum ershtn mol ("As Though for the First Time") gave an enigmatic vision of modern times. Yisroel Kaplan penned a series of prose sketches in Onhalt ("Support"). Misnagdishe mayses ("Stories of the Misnagdim") was the third of H.-D. Meynkes' collections. Shloyme Vorzoger published the sophisticated and powerful novel Libshaft ("Love"), about the Eastern European community in Israel. Herts Grosbard was the subject of a monograph, Der bal-tfile fun der yidisher literatur ("The Coryphaeus of Yiddish Literature"), by Mordkhe Tsanin. Avrom Lis compiled a collection of correspondence, including previously unpublished items, in his Briv fun Sholem Aleikhem ("The Letters of Sholem Aleichem"). Yoysef Bulof's Fun altn mark-plats ("From the Old Market-Place"), published as a book nearly 10 years after the author's death, was an imaginative memoir of childhood and adolescence written by a figure of the stage. Miriam Krant's essays in Geflekht fun tsvaygn ("A Skein of Branches") offered reflections on leading writers and poets. (THOMAS E. BIRD) PERSIAN Despite tensions over literature and culture, many works were published in Iran in 1995, and literature continued to enjoy the privileged social position it had occupied historically. Two novels, Farar-e Faravahar ("Faravahar's Escape") by Esma`il Fasih and Hekayat-e ruzegar ("The Story of the Times") by Farideh Golbu, won the Golden Plume prize for fiction established by Gardun, a monthly literary journal, as did Ghazaleh Alizadeh's short-story collection entitled Chahar-rah ("Crossroads"). A state-supported literature glorifying Muslims and demonizing enemies of Islam continued to present idealized images in countless poems and stories. Popular and journalistic fiction, headed by two serial works by Fahimeh Rahimi, a prolific writer, continued to outsell works of far greater aesthetic merit. Afghan and Tajik writers also published works in Tehran, mostly in anthologies. Presses in Europe and the United States published several important works of Persian literature in 1995, among them Abbas Saffari's collection of poems titled Dar moltaqaye dast va sib ("At the Crossing of Hands and Apples") and Naser Shahinpar's short-story collection Labas-e rasmi-ye tars ("Fear's Official Uniform"). Edges of Poetry, a selection of Esma`il Kho`i's poems in Persian with English on facing pages, led the way in translations of Persian poetry into English. The Society for Iranian Studies established a prize in the name of the late Iranian writer Ali-Akbar Sa`idi-Sirjani. Iranian poets, novelists, and critics, both those living in Iran and in exile, conducted reading tours sponsored by various Iranian community organizations in Europe, Canada, and the United States, and a variety of scholarly and academic exchanges between Iran and its expatriates proceeded unaffected by the embargo imposed by the U.S. government. (AHMAD KARIMI-HAKKAK) PORTUGUESE One trend in Portuguese fiction was an interest in subjects of a historical character. These were treated, however, with a freedom and sweep of imagination that had little to do with the conventional historical novel, bound as that form had been by the rules of chronological plausibility. National history provided most of the inspiration, giving the opportunity of rethinking the country's past and its present predicament. Mrio de Carvalho's new novel, Um deus passeando pela brisa da tarde, broke with this trend, however. The author set the story in Lusitania, on the Iberian Peninsula, in the 3rd century of the Christian era, when the region formed part of the Roman Empire. His choice of time and place tended to give the allegory a universal meaning. The book was considered to be a remarkable achievement, and the Association of Portuguese Authors awarded it the prize as best novel of the year. The novel tells of a Roman town's hard-pressed governor, who is harassed by marauding groups of North African invaders as he tries to restore the town's walls to resist an imminent siege. His plans clash with the interests of the townspeople, and his military reasoning is passively resisted by them. Faced with this dilemma, the governor decides that he would rather sacrifice human life than surrender the besieged town or compromise with the enemy. Seeing signs of the fall of the empire, he argues with an adherent of Christianity who chooses martyrdom over tolerance of Roman law. In the end the governor finds himself alone, secretly in love with the Christian woman whose attitudes he despises and wondering whether his own integrity is not as disgusting as hers. Sofia Ferreira's Mulheres de sombra, which examined the question of the inner solitude of the human being as a malaise of modern civilization, was an impressive first novel. Spreading over a period of three generations, the narrative encompassed many incidents and extended to many different places, but everything was secondary to the inner pursuit that reached the depths of despair in the women referred to in the title and that led to madness. The circular development of the narrative, which took a tragic instant wherever it might lead, made the novel compulsive reading. The Association of Portuguese Authors awarded the Great Prize for Poetry to Nuno Jdice's Meditao sobre runas. The work used a severe poetic diction to serve the anger of critical reason. (L.S. REBELO)

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