The Female Rootless Character in Hebrew Prose: Initial Attempts at Shaping her Image

Heddy Shait


The rootless character -- ha'talush -- was a significant and central figure in Hebrew prose at the turn of the twentieth century. The talush is perceived as a character representing the problems of the contemporary young Jew. This figure provided a kind of social and national criticism of Jewish society in the Diaspora, and in the Land of Israel later on, and became a way in which a critical literary discourse could be conducted thematically and poetically between different generations of writers. At the beginning of the twentieth century, this discourse was male oriented. However, along the male talush, a female rootless character emerged. This essay brings attention to the rootless female characters not only as secondary characters, but also as the protagonists in several major works: "Be-veit Aviha" (Her Father's Home, 1900) and Miriam (1921) by M. Y. Berdichevsky, "Melafefonim" (Cucumbers, 1909) by Y.D. Berkowitz and "Genia" (1904) by U.N. Gnessin— all take place in the Diaspora. "Bamavo" (At the Entrance, 1924) by Dov Kimchi and "Prazon" (Demilitarized Zone, 1940) by Isaac Shenhar are stories that take place during the Yishuv period in the land of Israel.

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