Aharon Shabtai

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Aharon Shabtai was born in Tel Aviv during the British mandate over Palestine in 1939. He spent his childhood on a kibbutz, and he later read philosophy and Greek at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and at the Sorbonne in Paris. After earning his Ph.D. with a dissertation on Aeschylus´ tragedies in 1979, he taught Greek drama at the Hebrew University up to the mid 1980s, and he has been lecturing on poetry and Greek literature at Tel Aviv University since 1990. As the foremost Hebrew translator of Greek drama including Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, and Aristophanes, Shabtai was awarded the 1993 Prime Minister´s Prize for Translation as well as the 1999 Tchernichowsky Prize.
To date he has published seventeen volumes of poetry which also received several prizes. In his long poem ´Kibbutz´ (1973) Aharon Shabtai describes life in the Zionist-socialist Israel of the 1950s. ´Hapoema HaBeitit´ (1976 engl. The Domestic Poem, 1987) consists of 363 vignettes strung on a mythical thread of concrete situations.

Several of his poems are mercilessly intimate in their reference to his personal experience of depression, erotic sprees and an unhappy marriage. The tone of these poems is direct and uncompromising. ´Love and Selected Poems´, which is the English selection of his poems of the past 30 years, was published in 1997.

Recently, ´J´accuse´ has incensed the readers´ passionate response. This collection of political poems had first appeared in the literary pages of the weekend edition of the newspaper ´Ha´aretz´ and was translated into English in 2003. The title alludes to Emile Zola´s famous letter denouncing the French government´s anti-Semitic bias during the Dreyfus affair.

Stylistically and morally drawing from Hebrew liturgy, Aharon Shabtai accentuates his contempt of Israeli politics in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in scornful pointed rhetoric. The poems cover the years from Netanyahu´s election in 1996 to the second Intifada and it unleashed a storm of indignation. Readers accused him of ignorantly underestimating the actual terrorist threat and implied that he had deep anti-Israeli convictions. But it is the poem ´Artzenu´ ( t: Our Country, 2002) which gave his latest volume of poetry its title, that reveals Shabtai´s intention of recalling as it does, his childhood prior to the foundation of the State of Israel. Here, the author clearly expresses that his criticism is meant as a defence of his ideal vision of Israel.

Aharon Shabtai lives in Tel Aviv.
Author: International Festival of Literature Berlin (ilb)

Works

Shemesh Shemesh

Published Written,
2006
Hargol

J´accuse

Published Written,
2003
Übersetzung von Peter Cole, New Directions: New York

Artzenu

Published Written,
2002
Ha-kibbutz ha-meuchad

Artsenu. Shirìm 1987-2002 Hotsa´at ha-Kibuts

Published Written,
2002
Tel Aviv

Politiqa

Published Written,
1999
Even Hoshen

Love and Other Poems

Published Written,
1997
The Sheep Meadow Press: New York

Be-xodesh May ha-nifla

Published Written,
1997
Siman Qria/ Ha-kibbutz ha-meuchad

Love & Selected Poems

Published Written,
1997
Übersetzung von Peter Cole, The Sheep Meadow Press: New York

Ha-lev

Published Written,
1995
Siman Qria/ Ha-kibbutz ha-meuchad

Metaziviqa

Published Written,
1992
Zmora Bitan

Gerushin

Published Written,
1990
Mosad Bialik

Ziva

Published Written,
1990
Zmora Bitan

ha-Poema ha-betit

Published Written,
1990
Am Oved: Tel Aviv

La première lecture

Published Written,
1990
Editions de l´Eclat: Paris

Ahava

Published Written,
1988
‛Am ‛Oved

Begin

Published Written,
1986
Keter

Ha-hartzaa ha-rishona

Published Written,
1985
‛Akhshav

Ha-xamor

Published Written,
1982
‛Eqed

Sefer ha-klum

Published Written,
1982
Sifriyat Po‛alim

Xut

Published Written,
1981
Proza

Xara, mavet

Published Written,
1979
‛Akhshav

Xadar ha-morim

Published Written,
1976
‛Akhshav

Ha-poema ha-beytit

Published Written,
1976
Siman Qria

Qibbutz

Published Written,
1973
Ha-kibbutz ha-meuchad

Merits

Israeli Prime Minister´s Prize in 1993

Www

International Festival of Literature Berlin