Ha-Efrati (Tropplowitz), Joseph

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HA-EFRATI (Tropplowitz), JOSEPH

HA-EFRATI (Tropplowitz ), JOSEPH (c. 1770–1804), Hebrew poet and dramatist. Born in Tropplowitz, Silesia, he was a tutor for several years, during which he wrote the first acts of Melukhat Sha'ul ("Saul's Kingdom"), a drama that was completed in Prague in 1793. Although many of his poems were published in the first issues of Ha-Me'assef, his principal work remains Melukhat Sha'ul. The Yiddish translation became part of the traditional *Purimshpil ("Purim play") in many Lithuanian and Polish towns. Melukhat Sha'ul, the first modern Hebrew drama of the Haskalah period, is noteworthy for its new egalitarian and humanistic ideas. Evidently influenced by Shakespeare, Goethe, Schiller, and von Haller, as well as M.H. *Luzzatto, Ha-Efrati was particularly successful in his depiction of a man in the grip of irrational forces. Yet critics have argued that the play's weakness lies in its flat characterizations of all personages except Saul. David, Jonathan, and Michal represent abstract ideas rather than lifelike characters. Ha-Efrati, however, improved upon all the numerous attempts throughout the Middle Ages to dramatize the tragedy of Saul. He portrayed the pathos of a suffering hero, ridden with envy and guilt, torn by fears and loneliness, and not merely a proud and jealous king. The drama very likely influenced J.L. *Gordon's David u-Varzillai and Ahavat David u-Mikhal (1857). Parts of a newly discovered book of Ha-Efrati's Hebrew poems were published by A.Z. Ben-Yishai (Behinot, 11 (Fall 1957), 59–71).


Klausner, Sifrut, 1 (1952), 193–9; J.L. Landau, Short Lectures on Modern Hebrew Literature (19382), 86–95; Melukhat Sha'ul (1968), introd. by G. Shaked; A. Yaari, in: KS, 12 (1935/36), 384–8; Kressel, Leksikon, 2 (1967), 32–33. add. bibliography: Ch. Shmeruk, Sifrut Yiddish, Perakim le-Toledoteha (1978); M. Granot, "Elokim u-Malakhim bi-Yeẓirot Mikraiyot mi-Tekufat ha-Haskalah,"in: Ben Yehuda (1981), 274–82; S. Werses, "Mi-Ḥilufei Lashon le-Ḥilufei Mashma'ut: Al Melukhat Sha'ul be-Tirgumo le-Yiddish," in: Ḥulliyot 6 (2000), 55–78.