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Resurrecting Hebrew (Jewish Encounters Series) Hardcover – September 16, 2008
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Top Customer Reviews
The good professor approaches the rebirth from a pretty weird angle - his recollection of a dream that propels him to reconnect with his lost Hebrew. In his dream, a lady sits next to him at a party and speaks in a language he does not immediately recognize. Conveniently, a group of rabbis are nearby, and one informs him that the mysterious language is Hebrew. His dream haunts him since a Jewish native from Mexico City should recognize the tongue of his youth. To add to the mystery, the lady completely undresses herself during the conversation.
Bothered, the dream propels Dr. Stavans to search out its meaning. After much reflective thought and conversations will well-intended friends, he believes the dream means he is "missing" his Hebrew. This displaced Jewish man is in the midst of a language identity crisis.
To find his language he investigates the life of Eliezer Ben-Yehuda, a lexicographer who is credited with helping Hebrew to achieve its national status once again. Ardently he searches and passionately he writes. The prose, however, is dreadfully slow in places. The various conversations he alludes to in full quotation do not ordinarily occur in casual circumstances.
Love language? Read this book. Don't read it in bed, however, or the Hebrew language won't be the only thing that needs a resurrection.
Armchair Interviews agrees.
Mr. Stavans has written a very moving book about his own encounters with Israeli life and culture, with the language of Hebrew and the men and women who helped to bring it to a second life, but he gives no real information about how Hebrew was revived in Palestine and even before in the Diaspora, how it was taught in Israel to the new immigrants who knew it only as a language of holy scripture, how decisions were made about its pronunciation, spelling, vocabulary and syntax. Indeed, a very strange book from which some might derive benefit as they feel extreme frustration in its failure to deliver on its alleged purpose in the first place.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I found this an engrossing read. It has a semi-autobiographical nature to it, as we travel with Ilan Stavans as he plays out his narrative. Read morePublished 8 months ago by Robert L. Campbell
Looks interesting, but I didn't read it. When my daughter is done with it, I plan to. Looks very thorough.Published on October 3, 2013 by Nina S.
Ilan Stavans has had personal encounters with many languages in his life. He was born in Mexico City, where he learned Yiddish as well as Spanish. Read morePublished on August 3, 2011 by Katharine Kerr
This study of the resurrection of Hebrew as a spoken vernacular becomes more of a series of mediations by Stavans on his history and associations with the language than about... Read morePublished on September 20, 2010 by Eric Maroney
This book was a major disappointment. Ilan Stavans set out on a quest to unearth the secrets behind the miraculous revival of Hebrew into the living, breathing language it has... Read morePublished on December 29, 2009 by Alan A. Elsner
I read this book. No point in repeating what others have said well already. I agree with the reviewers that argue Ilan is about Ilan. Read morePublished on July 26, 2009 by Rachel
I'm with Mr. Hurwitz. A confusing book, moderately readable, sometimes interesting, but generally inconclusive. Read morePublished on December 28, 2008 by David M. Fishlow