Mock-Epic as a Byproduct of the Norm of Elevated Language

Rachel Weissbrod
The Hebrew University of Jerusalem & Beit Berl College

Abstract

Beginning in the late nineteenth century, Hebrew underwent a process of revival. Despite the growing stratification of the language, literary translations into Hebrew were governed by a norm which dictated the use of an elevated style rooted in ancient Hebrew texts. This norm persisted at least until the 1960s. Motivated by the Hebrew tradition of employing the elevated style to produce the mock-epic, translators created mock-epic works independently of the source texts. This article describes the creation of the mock-epic in canonized and non canonized adult and children's literature, focusing on the Hebrew versions of Henry Fielding's Joseph Andrews, Damon Runyon's Guys and Dolls, Peter O'Donnell's Modesty Blaise and A.A. Milne's Winnie-the-Pooh and The House at Pooh Corner.

Table of contents

Beginning in the late nineteenth century, Hebrew was gradually transformed from a language limited to religious and literary texts to a living language, used for virtually every type of written and oral communication. This process, [ p. 246 ]triggered by the Jewish Enlightenment movement in Europe, was given momentum by Zionism (the Jewish national movement) and the immigration of Jews to Eretz Israel (pre-state Israel).

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