Aharon Appelfeld

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Aharon Appelfeld
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Stara Zhadova>Jadova, Romania (now Ukraine)201842|16}}| death_place = Petah Tikva, near Tel Aviv, IsraelAharon Appelfeld, Holocaust survivor who chronicled its traumas, dies at 85, The Washington Post| resting_place = | occupation = NovelistHebrew language>Hebrew | nationality = | ethnicity = | citizenship = Israeli| education = | alma_mater = The Hebrew University of Jerusalem| period = | genre = | subject = | movement = | notableworks = | spouse = | partner = | children = | relatives = | influences = | influenced = | awards = }}Aharon Appelfeld (; born Ervin AppelfeldBOOK, Shavit, Ari, 2013, My Promised Land: The Triumph and Tragedy of Israel,weblink New York, Spiegel & Grau, 165, 153, 9780385521703, 868556330, 9 February 2014, ; February 16, 1932 – January 4, 2018) was an Israeli novelist and Holocaust survivor.


Ervin Appelfeld was born in Jadova Commune, StorojineÈ› County, in the Bukovina region of the Kingdom of Romania, now Ukraine. In 1941, when he was nine years old, the Romanian Army retook his hometown after a year of Soviet occupation and his mother was murdered.MAGAZINE, Elkann, Alain, Aharon Appelfeld, The Art of Fiction No. 224, The Paris Review, Fall 2014, 210,weblink 24 February 2017, Appelfeld was deported with his father to a forced labor camp in Romanian-controlled Transnistria. He escaped and hid for three years before joining the Soviet army as a cook. After World War II, Appelfeld spent several months in a displaced persons camp in Italy before immigrating to Palestine in 1946, two years before Israel's independence. He was reunited with his father after finding his name on a Jewish Agency list in 1960. (He had presumed his father was dead, and his father had presumed Aharon had also perished in the Holocaust. They had both made their way separately to Israel after the war.) The father had been sent to a ma'abara (refugee camp) in Be'er Tuvia. The reunion was so emotional that Appelfeld has never been able to write about it.NEWS,weblink Circular confession, Haaretz, Ktzia, Alon, May 9, 2008, In Israel, Appelfeld made up for his lack of formal schooling and learned Hebrew, the language in which he began to write. His first literary efforts were short stories, but gradually he progressed to novels. He completed his studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.WEB,weblink Aharon Appelfeld, literary giant who gave vivid voice to Holocaust, dies at 85, Steinberg, Jessica, Israeli Literature, 4 January 2018, The Times of Israel, 12 January 2019, He lived in Mevaseret Zion and taught literature at Ben Gurion University of the Negev and was often writing in Jerusalem's Ticho House (Beit Ticho).{{Citation needed|date= May 2018}}In 2007, Appelfeld's Badenheim 1939 was adapted for the stage and performed at the Gerard Behar Center in Jerusalem.{{Citation needed|date= May 2018}}

Choice of language

Appelfeld was one of Israel's foremost living Hebrew-language authors, despite the fact that he did not learn the language until he was a teenager. His mother tongue was German, but he was also proficient in Yiddish, Ukrainian, Romanian, Russian, English, and Italian. With his subject matter revolving around the Holocaust and the sufferings of the Jews in Europe, he could not bring himself to write in German. He chose Hebrew as his literary vehicle for its succinctness and biblical imagery.{{Citation needed|date= May 2018}}Appelfeld purchased his first Hebrew book at the age of 25: King of Flesh and Blood by Moshe Shamir. In an interview with the newspaper Haaretz, he said he agonized over it, because it was written in Mishnaic Hebrew and he had to look up every word in the dictionary.Haaretz, July 6, 2007, "Books," Home Libraries, interview with Vered LeeIn an interview in the Boston Review, Appelfeld explained his choice of Hebrew: "I’m lucky that I’m writing in Hebrew. Hebrew is a very precise language, you have to be very precise–no over-saying. This is because of our Bible tradition. In the Bible tradition you have very small sentences, very concise and autonomic. Every sentence, in itself, has to have its own meaning."Interview: Aharon Appelfeld

The Holocaust as a literary theme

Many Holocaust survivors have written an autobiographical account of their survival, but Appelfeld does not offer a realistic depiction of the events. He writes short stories that can be interpreted in a metaphoric way. Instead of his personal experience, he sometimes evokes the Holocaust without even relating to it directly. His style is clear and precise, but also very modernistic.NEWS, Elizabeth, Lawler, The Literary Vision of Aharon Appelfeld: An Interview With Gila Ramras-Rauch,weblink Hebrew College Today, Winter 2005, March 13, 2008,weblink" title="">weblink 2007-09-16, dead, Appelfeld resided in Israel but wrote little about life there. Most of his work focuses on Jewish life in Europe before, during and after World War II.NEWS,weblink WALKING THE WAY OF THE SURVIVOR; A Talk With Aharon Appelfeld, Roth, Philip, 1988-02-28, The New York Times, 2019-04-24, en-US, 0362-4331, As an orphan from a young age, the search for a mother figure is central to his work. During the Holocaust he was separated from his father, and only met him again 20 years later.{{Citation needed|date= May 2018}}


Silence, muteness and stuttering are motifs that run through much of Appelfeld's work. Disability becomes a source of strength and power. Philip Roth described Appelfeld as “a displaced writer of displaced fiction, who has made of displacement and disorientation a subject uniquely his own.” The Marriage of Semite and Anti-Semite

Awards and honors

Cultural references

Appelfeld's work was greatly admired by his friend, fellow Jewish novelist Philip Roth, who made the Israeli writer a character in his own novel Operation Shylock.{{Citation needed|date= May 2018}}

Published works

{{Div col}}
  • Badenheim 1939 (1978, English translation: 1980)
  • The Age of Wonders (1978, tr. 1981)
  • Tzili (1982, tr. 1983)
  • The Retreat (tr. 1984)
  • To the Land of the Cattails (tr. 1986) (earlier published as To the Land of the Reeds)
  • The Immortal Bartfuss (1988)Walking the way of the survivor, New York Times
  • For Every Sin (tr. 1989)
  • The Healer (tr. 1990)
  • Katerina (1989, tr. 1992)
  • Iron Tracks (1991, tr. 1998)
  • Unto the Soul (tr. 1993)
  • The Conversion (1991, tr. 1998)
  • Laish (2001, tr. 2009)
  • Beyond Despair: Three Lectures and a Conversation With Philip Roth (tr. 2003)
  • (The Story of a Life: A Memoir) (2003)
  • A Table For One: Under The Light Of Jerusalem (tr. 2005)
  • All Whom I Have Loved (tr. 2007)
  • Blooms of Darkness (2006, tr. 2010)
  • Until the Dawn’s Light (1995, tr. 2011)
  • Yalda Shelo Minhaolam Hazé = A girl from another world (fiction for children) (2013, not yet tr. in English), (published in French, Italian, 2014)
  • Suddenly Love (tr. 2014)
  • Long Summer Nights (2015)
  • Adam and Thomas (fiction for children) (2015)
  • The Man Who Never Stopped Sleeping (2017)
{{Div col end}}

See also



External links

{{Commons category|Aharon Appelfeld}}
  • NEWS,weblink Haaretz, Vered Lee and Alex Levac., Aharon Appelfeld, Writer, Mevasseret Zion, July 11, 2007,
  • WEB,weblink Jewish Virtual Library, Aharon Appelfeld, The Institute for the Translation of Hebrew Literature.,
  • NEWS,weblink Haaretz, 'Israel's sorrow-caravan', Benjamin Balint, March 12, 2009,
  • weblink" title="">Interview with Appelfeld on his habit of writing at cafes Tablet (Magazine),
  • "A Cafe Should Give Inspiration" Aharon Appelfeld on Ticho House, Jerusalem
  • NEWS,weblink Aharon Appelfeld, The Art of Fiction No. 224, Paris Review, Alain Elkann, Fall 2014,
  • Biography from the Berlin International Literature Festival
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