Strange Cocktail

Translation and the Making of Modern Hebrew Poetry
Adriana X. Jacobs

A compelling exploration of the relation between translation and writing in the development of modern Hebrew poetry


For centuries, poets have turned to translation for creative inspiration. Through and in translation, poets have introduced new poetic styles, languages, and forms into their own writing, sometimes changing the course of literary history in the process. Strange Cocktail is the first comprehensive study of this phenomenon in modern Hebrew literature of the late nineteenth century to the present day. Its chapters on Esther Raab, Leah Goldberg, Avot Yeshurun, and Harold Schimmel offer close readings that examine the distinct poetics of translation that emerge from reciprocal practices of writing and translating. Working in a minor literary vernacular, the translation strategies that these poets employed allowed them to create and participate in transnational and multilingual poetic networks. Strange Cocktail thereby advances a comparative and multilingual reframing of modern Hebrew literature that considers how canons change and are undone when translation occupies a central position—how lines of influence and affiliation are redrawn and literary historiographies are revised when the work of translation occupies the same status as an original text, when translating and writing go hand in hand.

“Lucidly written . . . dazzling. A major contribution to the scholarship of modern Hebrew literature in any language, and in English all the more so. Few scholars have the knowledge of language and poetic corpora to be able to pull such a project together.”
—Shai Ginsburg, Duke University
“Thorough and elegantly formatted . . . Jacobs is highly knowledgeable and demonstrates impressive expertise. A notable contribution to modern Jewish literary studies, Israel studies, and translation studies, as well as the field of modern Hebrew literature and culture.”
—Naomi Sokoloff, University of Washington

Cover: Illustration by Keren Katz.

Adriana X. Jacobs is Associate Professor of Modern Hebrew Literature at the University of Oxford.

Praise / Awards

  • "'Constellation' seems to be a particularly apt word here for a book that succeeds in writing and analyzing 'in the orbit of translation' (p. 204), expanding the boundaries of both poetry and translation and placing Hebrew poetry and poets in productive dialogue with so many other texts and literary traditions." - Naomi Brenner, Hebrew Studies
  • Finalist: Association for Jewish Studies (AJS) 2019  Jordan Schnitzer Book Award in the category of Jewish Literature and Linguistics

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Product Details

  • 6 x 9.
  • 344pp.
  • 3 BW document scans, 5 color document scans, 2 color photo scans, 3 color art.
Available for sale worldwide

  • Hardcover
  • 2018
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-13090-0

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  • $84.95 U.S.

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  • poetry, translation, Hebrew, Jewish, diaspora, multilingualism, transnational, translators, poet-translator, Israel