The vengeance of the skull in yehuda amichai’s not of this time, not of this place

Nitza Ben-Dov, Robert Alter

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Nitza Ben-Dov’s Ḥayyei milḥamah, a study of ten literary works depicting the wars of Israel over the past one hundred years, was awarded the 2018 Yitzhak Sadeh Israeli Prize for Military Literature. This article, taken from that study and translated by eminent literary scholar and biblical translator Robert Alter, examines Yehuda Amichai’s Not of this Time, Not of this Place (1963) and its dual treatment of the legacies of World War II and the Israeli War of Independence. The bifurcated hero of Amichai’s sprawling novel lives out two parallel but contradictory plots, one takes him to the Germany of his childhood, the other unfolds in Jerusalem. For the attentive reader, these seemingly oppositional stories coalesce through a network of wordplays, perceptions, recurrent images (skulls, amputated limbs), and intertextual references to Hillel the Elder and to Agnon’s classic 1939 novel on the impossibility of returning home, A Guest for the Night.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)328-353
Number of pages26
JournalProoftexts - Journal of Jewish Literature History
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Prooftexts Ltd.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Religious studies
  • Literature and Literary Theory


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