Imagining the Kibbutz: Visions of Utopia in Literature and Film

Hardcover | April 13, 2015

byRanen Omer-Sherman

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In Imagining the Kibbutz, Ranen Omer-Sherman explores the literary and cinematic representations of the socialist experiment that became history’s most successfully sustained communal enterprise. Inspired in part by the kibbutz movement’s recent commemoration of its centennial, this study responds to a significant gap in scholarship. Numerous sociological and economic studies have appeared, but no book-length study has ever addressed the tremendous range of critically imaginative portrayals of the kibbutz. This diachronic study addresses novels, short fiction, memoirs, and cinematic portrayals of the kibbutz by both kibbutz “insiders” (including those born and raised there, as well as those who joined the kibbutz as immigrants or migrants from the city) and “outsiders.” For these artists, the kibbutz is a crucial microcosm for understanding Israeli values and identity. The central drama explored in their works is the monumental tension between the individual and the collective, between individual aspiration and ideological rigor, between self-sacrifice and self-fulfillment. Portraying kibbutz life honestly demands retaining at least two oppositional things in mind at once—the absolute necessity of euphoric dreaming and the mellowing inevitability of disillusionment. As such, these artists’ imaginative witnessing of the fraught relation between the collective and the citizen-soldier is the story of Israel itself.

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From the Publisher

In Imagining the Kibbutz, Ranen Omer-Sherman explores the literary and cinematic representations of the socialist experiment that became history’s most successfully sustained communal enterprise. Inspired in part by the kibbutz movement’s recent commemoration of its centennial, this study responds to a significant gap in scholarship. N...

Ranen Omer-Sherman is the Jewish Heritage Fund for Excellence Chair of Judaic Studies at the University of Louisville.

other books by Ranen Omer-Sherman

Israel in Exile: Jewish Writing and the Desert
Israel in Exile: Jewish Writing and the Desert

Kobo ebook|Oct 1 2010

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:352 pages, 9 × 6 × 0.94 inPublished:April 13, 2015Publisher:Penn State University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0271065575

ISBN - 13:9780271065571

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Extra Content

Table of Contents

Contents

List of Illustrations

Introduction

1. Trepidation and Exultation in Early Kibbutz Fiction

2. “With a Zealot’s Fervor”: Individuals Facing the Fissures of Ideology in Oz, Shaham, and Balaban

3. The Kibbutz and Its Others at Midcentury: Palestinian and Mizrahi Interlopers in Utopia

4. Late Disillusionments and Village Crimes: The Kibbutz Mysteries of Batya Gur and Savyon Liebrecht

5. From the 1980s to 2010: Nostalgia and the Revisionist Lens in Kibbutz Film

Afterword: Between Hope and Despair: The Legacy of the Kibbutz Dream in the Twenty-First Century

Acknowledgments

Notes

Bibliography

Index

Editorial Reviews

“From its emergence in pre-war Palestine until its privatization in the mid-1980s, the kibbutz was an iconic symbol of the settlement of Jews in their historic land. The lived experience of that utopian experiment was sometimes too controversial to deal with in nonfiction, but found expression in literature and film. Ranen Omer-Sherman has produced a valuable survey of such representations, which he considers wistfully, yet hopefully, at a time when kibbutzim are succumbing to privatization, even as some cling to their erstwhile promise of communalism.”—Aviva Ben-Ur, University of Massachusetts Amherst