Reclaiming the Revolutionary Amichai
This chapter traces Amichai's reception and appropriation as a “national poet” of official celebrations in Israel and as a poet of simple religiosity in the Jewish American synagogue. Arguing that revolutionary poetry is too “dangerous” to be left alone to do its work, the chapter interrogates these misreadings not as mistakes that should be corrected but as informative expressions of hegemonic processes of canon formation. By contrast, the chapter illustrates the wrath with which early critics received his work, labeling it revolutionary and heretical – all this in an attempt to restore our ability to perceive these features in Amichai's poetry even today, despite its massive cooptation. The chapter also critiques the over-emphasis on thematics in literary studies, theorizing from Amichai's work a model for the politics of poetic form.
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