Jewish writers chose Hebrew, not German or Russian or even Yiddish, as the language with which to build a modern literary tradition.
In sum, the creators of modern Hebrew literature in Europe were impelled by a sense that the language through which they sought to shape a new Jewish culture had a unique aesthetic dignity and a unique historical resonance. This sense sustained them in the shabbiest material circumstances, when there was barely a readership to address, when the great culture to come was represented here and now only by the handful of literary colleagues with whom they fraternized and with whom they collaborated on the new Hebrew journals and in the new publishing houses.
The following article is reprinted with permission from Hebrew and Modernity, published by Indiana University Press.
Did you like this article? MyJewishLearning is a not-for-profit organization.