Past Event

The Authentic Paganism Of Shaul Tchernikhovsky

March 30, 2022
12:00 PM - 1:00 PM
Online Event
Join IIJS for the Miron Lecture on Jewish Literature with Prof. Robert Alter.

Shaul Tchernikhovsky, one of the two major Hebrew poets of the earlier twentieth century, over the years wrote a series of poems celebrating the power and beauty of paganism, much to the consternation of many of his readers. The lecture will try to show how these poems were not simply an ideological gesture but the expression of an authentically felt experience of pantheistic vitalism in the natural world articulated through the ancient gods. Special attention will be devoted to the sonnet cycle To the Sun, one of this poet's most original achievements.

Supported by the generosity of the Knapp Family Foundation.

Robert Alter is Professor of the Graduate School and Emeritus Professor of Hebrew and Comparative Literature at the University of California at Berkeley, where he has taught since 1967.   He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Philosophical Society, the Council of Scholars of the Library of Congress, and is past president of the Association of Literary Scholars and Critics.   He has twice been a Guggenheim Fellow, has been a Senior Fellow of the National Endowment for the Humanities, a fellow at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Jerusalem, and Old Dominion Fellow at Princeton University.  He has written widely on the European novel from the eighteenth century to the present, on  American fiction, and on modern Hebrew literature.   He has also written extensively on literary aspects of the Bible.  His twenty-eight published books include two prize-winning volumes on biblical narrative and poetry and award-winning translations of Genesis and of the Five Books of Moses.  He has devoted book-length studies to Fielding, Stendhal, and the self-reflexive tradition in the novel. Books by him have been translated into ten different languages.   Among his publications over the past thirty years are Necessary Angels: Tradition and Modernity in Kafka, Benjamin, and Scholem (1991),  Imagined Cities  (2005),  Pen of Iron: American Prose and the King James Bible (2010),The Art of Bible Translation (2019), and Nabokov and the Real World 2021).  His completed translation of the Hebrew Bible with a commentary was published in 2018 in a three-volume set. In 2009 he received the Robert Kirsch Award from the Los Angeles Times for lifetime contribution to American letters and in 2013 the Charles Homer Haskins Prize for career achievement from the American Council of Learned Societies.  In 2019 the American Academy of Arts and Letters conferred on him an award for literature.  He has been given honorary degrees by Yale, Northwestern, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and three other institutions.

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Institute for Israel and Jewish Studies