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Miron, Dan

MIRON, DAN

MIRON, DAN (1934– ), scholar and critic of Hebrew and Yiddish Literature. Miron was born in Tel Aviv. He studied for his first two academic degrees at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and for his Ph.D. at Columbia University in New York. For more than 40 years he taught at the universities of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem and at Columbia University. Dan Miron's oeuvre constitutes one of the largest, most impressive, and significant achievements in the research and criticism of Jewish Literature in recent generations. His unique contribution to Jewish literary studies can be considered under the following parameters:

Quantity

Miron's scholarly output has been prodigious. He published his first article in 1951, when he was just 17, and from then not a year went by without a written or published work. His publications include some 30 original books, another 30 or so which he edited or translated, generally adding a substantial foreword or postscript, and hundreds of articles. In addition, he was responsible for two massive, long-term editorial projects: The complete definitive edition of the poems of Ḥ.N. Bialik, in three volumes (1983–2000) and the edition of the works of U.Ẓ. Greenberg, not yet complete, comprising over a dozen volumes by 2005.

Scope

Miron's opus is multifaceted and spans historical periods, genres and languages. In historical terms, his research projects span from the beginning of the Haskalah during the first half of the 19th century to the most avant-garde literary frontline of the end of the 20th century and the beginning of the 21st. Within this wide range he has researched most of the major writers, of both prose and verse, and many of the more marginal, both Hebrew and Yiddish.

Methodology

Although Miron's intellectual heritage derived from the related trends of Anglo-American New Criticism, Russian Formalism, and French Structuralism, he was never content to remain within the bounds of textual and semiotic analyses, or of an "internal" investigation of literary dynamics. At the same time he never abandoned them. His interpretations combine a subtle and sensitive recording of the finest nuances of a text, of its multiple levels of meaning, its poetics and its aesthetics with an awareness of the text's historical, biographical, social and cultural contexts. These contexts he describes in lively detail, mapping their reciprocal and cross-fertilizing links to a group of texts.

Form

Miron's critical work takes the form of brilliantly organized essays, possessing a high artistic quality of their own. Their organization is of a rigorously classical kind, which functions by way of discovering an ordering idea within a primordial mass of heterogeneous material, thus imposing a boldly contoured clarity upon diversity and confusion. The aesthetics of masterly ordering in the essays has an emotional effect, due to its narrative, even dramatic character. Miron's essays tell a story, and they employ intuitively the tactics and strategies of effective storytelling to arouse interest, to maintain suspense and to provide enough information to satisfy the reader's natural curiosity without quenching a desire to investigate further.

Miron's oeuvre, developing since the 1950s, is a profoundly searching multidimensional project, which delineates a richly detailed map of modern Jewish literature and culture. It uncovers hidden areas and throws new light upon well-known territory. It offers the student of contemporary Jewish literature a superb entry route to the many faces of the subject.

Among his works are Shalom Aleikhem: Pirkei Masah (1970); Sholem Aleykhem: Person, Persona, Presence (1972); Arba Panim ba-Sifrut ha-Ivrit (1975); Bein Ḥazon le-Emet: Niẓẓanei ha-Roman ha-Ivri (1979); Kivvun Orot: Taḥanot ba-Sipporet ha-Ivrit ha-Modernit (1979); Der imazsh fun Shtetl: Dray literarishe Shtudyes (1981); Ha-Preidah min ha-Ani he-'Ani (1986); Mul ha-Aḥ ha-Shotek: Iyyunim be-Shirat Milḥemet ha-Aẓma'ut (1992); H.N. Bialik and the Prophetic Mode in Modern Hebrew Poetry (2000); Parpar min ha-Tola'at: Natan Alterman ha-Ẓa'ir (2001); Akdamot le-Aẓag (= U.Z. Greenberg) (2002); Ha-Ẓad ha-Afel bi-Ẓeḥoko shel Shalom Aleikhem (2004).

[Gidi Nevo]

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