KAHANA-CARMON, AMALIA


KAHANA-CARMON, AMALIA (1926– ), Israeli writer. Amalia Kahana-Carmon was born in kibbutz En-Ḥarod but lived in Tel Aviv since childhood. She served in the Negev Brigade during the War of Independence and took part in the capture of Beersheba. After studying at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, she stayed for seven years in England and Switzerland, and then returned to Tel Aviv, where she worked for many years as a librarian. Chronologically she belongs to the group of writers who began writing in the 1940s and subsequently became known as the "Palmaḥ generation," but her work differs basically from theirs: though it does echo the events of the pre-State period and War of Independence and later periods, she makes no attempts to deal with external reality and social themes as such. Others consider her as a member of the experimental "New Wave." Her prose is intrinsically lyrical, concentrating on the characters' inner responses. The events depicted are usually minor ones, the characters mainly described during an attempt to break out of their closed world, generally in order to reach another person. These attempts mostly fail, and the stories end with characters withdrawing into themselves again, resigned and somewhat changed. A contact that is established is frequently described as miraculous and blessed.

The lyrical nature of her prose is a reflection of her major themes: most of her characters are represented while reflecting on events rather than creating them, discovering their inability to break out and effect a change. Amalia Kahana-Carmon's style is remarkable for its capacity to represent the inner world of her characters, with all the subtle changes that take place there. Critics have praised her stylized impressionistic diction, her way of portraying in a refined poetic manner melodramatic moments as well as trivial daily matters. One of the first self-aware feminine voices in Hebrew prose, author of a series of articles in which she criticized the discrimination against women as writers and readers in a male-dominated, male-oriented Hebrew literature, Kahana-Carmon's oeuvre has become the subject of research and interpretation among scholars in the fields of Gender Studies and Feminist Theory. Her works include a collection of 17 short stories, Bi-Khefifah Aḥat ("Under One Roof," 1966); the novel Ve-Yareaḥ be-Emek Ayalon ("And the Moon in the Valley of Ayalon," 1971); a collection of three novellas, Sadot Magnetiyyim ("Magnetic Fields," 1977); stories collected as Himurim Gevohim ("High Stakes," 1980); Lema'alah be-Montifer ("Up in Montifer," 1984); novellas and stories. The novel Liviti Otah ba-Derekh Le-Veitah ("I Escorted Her on the Way Home," 1991) depicts the relationship between Me'irah, a well-known middle-aged Ashkenazi actress, and an Oriental Israeli from a development town, twenty years her junior. Kan Nagur ("Here We'll Live," 1996), is composed of five novellas: Two of these depict the life of three students in Jerusalem under the British Mandate; "Lev ha-Kayiẓ, Lev ha-Or" portrays the life of a family from the point of view of a child, while "Mi-Mar'ot Gesher ha-Barvaz ha-Yarok" is a historic novella, focusing on the notion of captivity and personal freedom.

Kahana-Carmon received many major awards, including the Bialik Prize and the prestigious Israel Prize for literature (2000). Although much admired in Israel, very few of her works have been translated into other languages, mainly due to her own objection: "Despite interest from various publishers all over the world, I have not yet found the translator who is capable of transporting my words into another language," she said in an interview. The novel Liviti Otah ba-Derekh Le-Veitah was translated into Italian and Chinese, a few stories appeared in German anthologies of Hebrew literature. The story "Bridal Veil" appeared in G. Abramson (ed.), Oxford Book of Hebrew Short Stories (1996) as well as in R. Domb (ed.), New Women's Writing from Israel (1996). Further information regarding translation is available at the ITHL website at www.ithl.org.il

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

G. Shaked, Gal Ḥadash be-Sipporet ha-Ivrit (1971), 168–79; idem, in: Moznayim, 2 (July, 1971), 121–30; S. Grodzensky, in: Davar (July 30, 1971); N. Calderon, in: Siman Keriah, 1 (Sept. 1972), 321–6; R. Litvin, in: La-Merḥav (Oct. 3, and 10, 1969); A. Balaban, Ha-Kadosh ve-ha-Drakon: Iyyun bi-Yẓirot Amalia Kahana-Karmon (1979). ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: L. Yudkin, "Kahana-Carmon and the Plot Unspoken," in: Modern Hebrew Literature, 2:4 (1976), 30–42; W. Bargad, "A.K.C. and the Novel of Consciousness," in: Prooftexts, 1:2 (1981), 172–184; H. Herzig, A. Kahana-Karmon (1983); L. Rattok, Amalia Kahana-Karmon: Monografiyyah (1986); E. Fuchs, "A.K.C. and Contemporary Hebrew Women's Fiction," in: Signs, 13:2 (1988), 299–310; S. Grober, "First Axioms," in: Modern Hebrew Literature, 13:3–4 (1988), 10–14; H. Hever, "Minority Discourse of a National Majority," in: Prooftexts, 10:1 (1990), 129–147; L. Rattok, Ha-Kol ha-Aḥer (1994), 287f.; W. Bargad, "Elements of Style in the Fiction of A. Kahana-Carmon," in: Hebrew Annual Review, 2 (1978), 1–10; P. Shirav: Ketivah Lo Tamah (1998); Y.S. Feldman, No Room of Their Own:Gender and Nation in Israeli Women's Fiction (1999); R.A. Jones, Self and Place in "The White Light" by A. Kahana-Carmon, in: Textual Practice, 16:1 (2002), 93–110.

[Abraham Balaban /

Anat Feinberg (2nd ed.)]


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