“Memory of a vague longing”: reflective nostalgia in Lea Goldberg’s wartime poetry

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Among the modern Hebrew poets, Lea Goldberg is perhaps one of the few who not only wrote nostalgic poems about the homeland that was left behind and destroyed in the Second World War and the Holocaust, but was also aware of the historicity of her own nostalgic discourse. While explicitly acknowledging the permanence of the absence of the past, she reflected on the meaning and even the legitimacy of nostalgia in her writing. Building on contemporary theories of nostalgia, this essay traces the development of a nostalgic discourse in Lea Goldberg’s lesser known poems written between the years 1939 and 1945. It argues that Goldberg’s nostalgic poems composed during the Second World War should be divided into two periods: from 1940 to 1942 and from 1943 to 1945. It suggests understanding the crucial poetic difference between the nostalgic modes present in each period through the prism of recent theories of nostalgia. Such a hermeneutic approach enables us to reveal the moulding of nostalgia as a “regime of seeing” in Goldberg’s wartime poetry.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)17-33
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Modern Jewish Studies
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2 Jan 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


  • Hebrew poetry
  • Lea Goldberg
  • Second World War
  • memory and nostalgia
  • representation of holocaust

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • History
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Political Science and International Relations


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