Man knows more than he understands

Alfred Adler

Leah Goldberg - biography

Leah Goldberg (Hebrew/Yiddish: לאה גולדברג; May 29, 1911, Königsberg – January 15, 1970, Jerusalem) was a prolific Hebrew poet, author, playwright, translator, and researcher of Hebrew literature. Born in a Jewish Lithuanian family, her writings are classics of Israeli literature.



Born in Königsberg, Germany, Goldberg studied in Lithuania and Germany, specialising in philosophy and Semitic languages. She received a Ph.D. in Semitic languages from the University of Bonn in 1933, before moving to Mandatory Palestine in 1935. Goldberg settled in Tel Aviv where she worked as a literary adviser to Habimah, the national theater, and an editor for the publishing company Sifriyat HaPoalim ("Workers' Library"). In 1954, she became a lecturer in literature at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. From 1963, she headed the university's Department of Comparative Literature.

Goldberg, who spoke seven languages, translated numerous foreign works into Hebrew. Her translations from Russian and Italian are of particular note.

Literary style

Goldberg had a modernist literary style that may superficially look uncomplicated. She writes in a poem about her own style that "lucid and transparent / are my images". Although she sometimes chose to write poems that do not rhyme (especially in her later period), she always respected questions of rhythm; moreover, in her "antique" works (e.g., the set of love poems The Sonnets of Therese du Meun, a false document about the love-longings of a married French noblewoman for a young tutor), Goldberg adopted complex rhyming schemes. A very elaborate style that she sometimes used was the thirteen-line sonnet.

Loneliness and the breakdown of relationships are common themes in her poetry, with a tragic intonation that some say originates in her own loneliness. Her work is deeply rooted in Western culture (for instance, the Odyssey) and Jewish culture. Some of her most well known poems are about nature and longing for the landscape of her homeland (and not Israel as many presume). For example: My homeland, a poor and fair land The Queen has no home, the King has no crown And there are seven days of spring-time a year All the rest are rain and chill.

Children's literature

Goldberg's books for children, among them Dira Lehaskir ("Apartment for Rent") have become classics of Hebrew children's literature.

Critical acclaim

Goldberg received in 1949 the Ruppin Prize (for the volume "Al Haprikhá")and, in 1970, the Israel Prize for literature.

Article author: Zipora Galitski
Article tags: biography
The article is about these people:   Leah Goldberg

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