Modern Hebrew Literature

In 1969 the HDP began its compilation of Modern Hebrew works, starting with works from the Haskalah period in Germany (mid-eighteenth century) and concluding with the founding of the State of Israel. In 2009 this scope was broadened to include Hebrew literature composed in Italy and Amsterdam from the fifteenth century on.

Modern Hebrew writing constitutes an important building block in the formation of modern spoken Hebrew. Composed in a modern European cultural and intellectual setting, it was influenced by and adapted itself to the majority culture. Its works reflect a variety of new genres: belles lettres, autobiography, and journalism, among others, as well as scientific literature. In all these genres we find words, phrases, and meanings that are in use to the present. The processes sparked by the printing revolution that continued with the creation of Mendele Mokher Seforim’s style and culminated in the renewal of Hebrew speech, laid the foundations for a modern secular Hebrew language.

The works by three of the modern period’s most eminent writers—Mendele Mokher Seforim, Hayyim Nahman Bialik, and Shmuel Yosef Agnon—will be processed in their entirety. For the works of other writers, including Ahad Ha-Am, Joseph Brenner, Y.D. Berkowitz, Uri Gnessin, Hayyim Hazaz, Zeev Jabotinsky, Abraham Mapu, Moses Mendelssohn, Perets Smolenskin, and Moses Hayyim Luzzatto—selected texts will be processed.

In the database, the texts for Modern Hebrew literature are typeset according to their first printed edition. At present, over 600 texts of varying length—containing some 10 million words produced by about 100 writers—have been processed, and concordance entries have been prepared for about one-third of these compositions.