Thursday, November 29, 2012

Big Night Book – Yehuda Amichai

As far as I know, there isn’t an English translation of Yehuda Amichai’s Big Night Book, Sepher Halayla HaGadol.  This work, written by Israel’s greatest contemporary poet, chronicles seven nights in the life of Emanuela, a small girl who is comforted through the terrors of the night by the Night Queen.

This is a children’s book, so the Hebrew prose is not overly difficult.  Someone with an intermediate skill in Israeli Hebrew can probably handle it with relative ease.  The text is pointed, and Amichai mixes his prose with poems, making the reading varied.  The illustrations are a bit washed out and without  power, but have the sketch like consistency of a dream, which I suppose is the point.

Amichai is largely credited for taking the register of Hebrew poetry and making it more pedestrian, more like the spoken language of Israel.  This children’s book cleverly shows his mission.  The prose is lucid, simple, but coveys profound ideas about childhood hopes and dreams.

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