AMICHAI, YEHUDA

AMICHAI, YEHUDA (1924–2000), Israeli poet and novelist. Born in Germany, Amichai went to Palestine in 1936, settled in Jerusalem, and served with the Jewish Brigade in World War II. In the latter part of the 1940s he began to publish poetry. The appearance of his first volume Akhshav u-ve-Yamim Aḥerim (1955) marked the emergence of a new school of Hebrew poetry. Amichai's poetry reflected the drastic changes which had taken place in the Hebrew language during World War II and the War of Independence. It had become enriched with new idioms and had adopted syntactical elements derived from the new slang. Amichai's familiarity with the wit   and irony of modern English poetry as well as its use of understatement and prose phrasing aided him in working this new Hebrew vernacular into his verse. Amichai introduced airplanes, tanks, fuel trucks, and administrative contracts into a Hebrew poetry which had hitherto avoided these modern terms in order not to mar the beauty of its classic texture. The worlds of technology and law, which became the raw materials for his metaphors, replaced the earlier sacral phrasing. The result was either ironic or tragic and represented an eschewal of history – a mawkish, obdurate, and pathetic version of biblical myth. He was awarded the Israel Prize in 1982. His volumes also include Be-Merḥak Shetei Tikvot (1958); Ba-Ginnah ha-Ẓibburit (1959); and his collected poems, Shirim… 1948–1962 (1963). Amichai's novel, Lo me-Akhshav, Lo mi-Kan (1963; Not of This Time, Not of This Place, 1968), and his short stories are written in a prose style which tends to be confessional, reflective, and redolent of poetic illumination. The novel focuses upon an Israeli seeking revenge upon the Germans who participated in the extermination of his native town and presents a picture of men in spiritual and physical flight. Amichai also wrote Massa le-Nineveh (1962), a retelling of the story of Jonah, staged by Habimah in 1964; a number of radio sketches, including Pa'amonim ve-Rakkavot (Eng. "Bells and Trains" in Midstream, Oct. 1966, 55–66); and a book for children, "Numa's Fat Tail" (1978). Among his other poetry volumes are Lo Rak Lizekor ("Not Only to Remember," 1971), Zeman ("Time," 1977), and Sh'at ha-Ḥen ("Hour of Grace," 1982), as well as Patuaḥ, Sagur, Patuḥ ("Open, Closed, Open," 1998). Amichai's poetry has been translated into 33 languages. Available in English translation are, among others, Achziv, Caesarea and One Love (1996); Amen (1977); Even a Fist Was Once an Open Palm with Fingers (1991); Great Tranquility, Questions and Answers (1983; 1997); Poems of Jerusalem and Love Poems (1992). The Collected Poems of Amichai appeared in 2004 in five volumes. -BIBLIOGRAPHY: A. Cohen, Soferim Ivriyyim Benei Zemannenu (1969), 259–65; S. Zemach, Sheti va-Erev (1960), 216–35, "Friend," in: S. Burnshaw et al. (eds.), The Modern Hebrew Poem Itself (1965), 160–7. ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: B. Arpaly, Ha-Peraḥim ve-ha-Agartal: Shirat Amichai 1948–1968 (1986); G. Abramson, The Writing of Yehuda Amichai: A Thematic Approach (1989); N. Gold, Lo ka-Brosh (1994); G. Abramson (ed.), The Experienced Soul (1997); E. Hirsch, Responsive Reading (1999); M.L. Sethi, Knowing by Heart: The Sweetness and Pain of Memory in the Poetry of Yehuda Amichai and Mahmud Darwish (2002); Z. Avran and M. Itzhaki (eds.), Hommage à Yehuda Amichai (French, 2002); E. Negev, Close Encounters with Twenty Israeli Writers (2003). WEBSITE: www.ithl.org.il . (Dan Tsalka)

Encyclopedia Judaica. 1971.

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  • Amichai, Yehuda — (1924 2000)    Israeli poet and novelist. Born in Germany, he settled in Palestine in 1936. His poetry reflects the changes in the Hebrew language during World War II and the Israeli War of Independence: he introduced airplanes, tanks, fuel… …   Dictionary of Jewish Biography

  • Yehuda Amichai — Yehuda Amichaï Yehuda Amichaï (Würzburg, 3 mai 1924 Jérusalem, 22 septembre 2000) (en hébreu:יהודה עמיחי) est un poète juif israélien de langue hébraïque. Il occupe une place non négligeable dans la littérature israélienne de son siècle. Sommaire …   Wikipédia en Français

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