Avraham Balaban: All you need is love

What happened to the ideal mother of Israel’s early days? Prof. Avraham Balaban tells how she turned into a manipulative crank in his new book on motherhood in modern Hebrew fiction

Source:  Haaretz, 7-15-10

Nine Mothers and a Mother: Representations of Motherhood in Modern Hebrew Fiction

You only have one mother – so runs the cliche. But Prof. Avraham Balaban might add, “and a good thing, too.” That, at any rate, is the impression one gets from his new study, “Nine Mothers and a Mother: Representations of Motherhood in Modern Hebrew Fiction” (published in Hebrew by Hakibbutz Hameuchad ). Here, the Jewish mother is cranky, manipulative, monstrous, alienating, neglectful, castrating and abandoning – and alas, not always loving.

Balaban, a poet, writer, researcher and critic, is a professor of Hebrew literature at the University of Florida, where the two courses he offers have a feminist orientation: “Women in Hebrew Literature” and “Motherhood in Modern Hebrew literature.” His study of the works of Amos Oz, David Grossman, Ronit Matalon, Lea Aini, Avirama Golan, Zeruya Shalev, Savyon Liebrecht and Hanna Bat Shahar turned up a broad common denominator among all their ostensibly fictional mothers. Each in her way, in the imagined territory in which she functions, is very far from the positive, politically correct image we have of our own mothers. “I hardly found one mother who is good enough,” Balaban says….READ MORE

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