Cover of The Full Severity of Compassion by Chana Kronfeld
The Full Severity of Compassion
The Poetry of Yehuda Amichai
Chana Kronfeld

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December 2015
416 pages.
$55.00

Cloth ISBN: 9780804782951

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Yehuda Amichai (1924–2000) was the foremost Israeli poet of the twentieth century and an internationally influential literary figure whose poetry has been translated into some 40 languages. Hitherto, no comprehensive literary study of Amichai's poetry has appeared in English. This long-awaited book seeks to fill the gap.

Widely considered one of the greatest poets of our time and the most important Jewish poet since Paul Celan, Amichai is beloved by readers the world over. Beneath the carefully crafted and accessible surface of Amichai's poetry lies a profound, complex, and often revolutionary poetic vision that deliberately disrupts traditional literary boundaries and distinctions. Chana Kronfeld focuses on the stylistic implications of Amichai's poetic philosophy and on what she describes as his "acerbic critique of ideology." She rescues Amichai's poetry from complacent appropriations, showing in the process how his work obliges us to rethink major issues in literary studies, including metaphor, intertextuality, translation, and the politics of poetic form. In spotlighting his deeply egalitarian outlook, this book makes the experimental, iconoclastic Amichai newly compelling.

About the author

Chana Kronfeld is Professor of Hebrew and Comparative Literature at the University of California, Berkeley. She is the author of On the Margins of Modernism: Decentering Literary Dynamics (winner of the MLA Scaglione Prize for Best Book in Comparative Literary Studies) and the co-translator (with Chana Bloch) of Yehuda Amichai's Open Closed Open: Poems (winner of the PEN Translation Prize). Kronfeld is the recipient of the Akavyahu Lifetime Achievement Award for her studies of Hebrew and Yiddish poetry.

"I am not exaggerating when I say that this is a book a whole generation—on two continents—has been waiting for. It is the only study of its kind in English, and it resolves and transcends decades of controversy and misguided readings of Amichai's poetry in Israel and elsewhere."

—Sidra DeKoven Ezrahi, Hebrew University of Jerusalem