Harshav, Benjamin

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HARSHAV, BENJAMIN (Hrushovski ; H. Binyomin/Binyamin ; 1928– ), literary theorist, scholar, and poet. Born in Vilna, Harshav studied in the U.S.S.R. during World War ii and was active in the Zionist-Socialist movement in Germany before immigrating to Palestine in May 1948, serving in combat in the Israeli War of Independence and studying at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and at Yale. He founded the Porter Institute for Poetics and Semiotics at Tel Aviv University, developing the approach of "constructive poetics." In the fields of literary theory, poetics, cultural semiotics, prosody, and comparative and Hebrew literature he published over 30 monographs, in addition to numerous edited and translated volumes (especially of poetry into Hebrew and, with Barbara Harshav, into English), among them: American Yiddish Poetry (1986), The Meaning of Yiddish (1990), Language in Time of Revolution (1993), Shirat ha-Tekhiya ha-Ivrit ("Poetry of the Hebrew Revival," 2 vols., 2000), Marc Chagall and His Times: A Documentary Narrative (2004), Marc Chagall / The Lost Jewish World: The Nature of his Art and Iconography (2006), and five volumes of his selected works in Hebrew (his important theoretical work especially in vols. 1–2; 2000). Beyond his long tenure at Hebrew University (1954–65), Tel Aviv University (1965–87), and Yale (from 1987), he held guest professorships and research fellowships at several universities in Europe and the U.S., and was a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He founded and edited the scholarly journals Ha Sifrut, ptl(Poetics and Theory of Literature), and Poetics Today, and the monograph series Sifrut, Mashma'ut, Tarbut. Harshav wrote poetry in both Hebrew (Shirei Gabi Daniel, 2000) and Yiddish (under the name [H.] Binyomin): Shtoybn ("Dust," 1948) and Take oyf Tshikaves: Geblibene Lider ("For the Sake of Curiosity: Remnant Poems," 1994).


Z. Ben-Porat (ed.), Aderet le-Vinyamin, 2 vols. (1999–2001); idem, in: Poetics Today, 22 (2001), 245–51.

[Jerold C. Frakes (2nd ed.)]