Ravikovitch, Dalia

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RAVIKOVITCH, DALIA (1936–2005), Hebrew poet. Born in Ramat Gan, Ravikovitch was sent after her father's death to live on a kibbutz. She studied at the Hebrew University, worked as journalist and teacher, and began publishing poetry in 1955. Her first collection, Ahavat Tappuaḥ ha-Zahav, with the title alluding to Prokofiev's burlesque opera, appeared in 1959. Nearly a dozen volumes of poetry followed, including Ha-Sefer ha-Shelishi ("The Third Book," 1969), Ahavah Amitit ("True Love," 1987), Kol ha-Shirim ad Ko ("All the Poems Till Now," 1995), Merov Ahavah ("Because of Love," 1998) and Ḥaẓi Sha'ah lifnei ha-Monsun ("Half an Hour before the Monsoon," 1998). The often very intimate poetry addresses the theme of loss and loneliness. Typical is the way in which Ravikovitch sets the personal experience in a wider context, the emotion in a collective historical or mythological frame of reference (as, for example, in the poem "Ha-Historyah shel ha-Perat"). Dreams and hallucinations evoke the vulnerability of the feminine speaker in the poems, the sense of yearning and anticipation, frequently alluding to a thwarted eroticism (as in "Clockwork Doll"). Motherhood and commitment, bodily decrepitude, and the mysterious life-driving force are some of the recurring themes. Another keynote is the political one: poems in which the speaker protests in the tradition of the biblical prophet against injustice and oppression. Ravikovitch depicts the fate of an infant who was killed in his mother's womb ("Mother Walks Around"), delineates with sarcasm the picture of terror and death in the Palestinian refugee camps of Sabra and Shatilla ("One Doesn't Kill a Baby Twice"), tells of an Arab who was burned to death, reflects on Palestinian youth throwing stones, robbed of the innocence of childhood ("Stones"), or portrays the Israeli mother whose son died in the army ("But She Had a Son"). A sense of futility and resignation marks many of the confessional poems speaking of existence–both private and collective–on the verge of an abyss. "We are a plan that has gone awry," she writes.

In addition to her own collections of poetry, Ravikovitch translated the poetry of W.B. Yeats and T.S. Eliot into Hebrew. She is the author of children's books in verse and prose, including Mekhonit ha-Pela'im ("The Magic Car," 1959), Kalmanshel Rami ("Rami's Kalman," 1961), Imma Mevulbelet ("Absent-Minded Mommy," 1978). She also published two collections of short stories: Mavet ba-Mishpaḥah ("Death in the Family," 1976) and Kevuẓat ha-Kaduregel shel Winnie Mandela ("Winnie Mandela's Soccer Team," 1997). The typical protagonist is generally a woman or a girl who does not fit into normative social frameworks, a sensitive individual who remains an outsider, whether in the family, in the group, or in the kibbutz. In 2005 Ravikovitch published a collection of fifty mini-stories, oscillating between the melancholy and the humorous, under the title Ba'ah ve-Halkhah ("She Came and Went"). Ravikovitch was awarded the Bialik Prize (1987) and the Israel Prize (1998). Her poems have been translated into many languages. The English collection Dress of Fire appeared in 1978, followed by The Window in 1989. For information concerning translations into other languages see the ithl website at www.ithl.org.il.

Ravikovitch was found dead in her apartment on August 21, 2005, apparently by her own hand.


R. Gurfein, Mi-Karov u-me-Raḥok (1964), 247–50; A. Cohen, Soferim Ivriyyim Benei Zemannenu (1964), 296–7; G. Yardeni-Agmon, in: Haaretz (Jan. 30, 1970), 14–15; M. Shalev, in: Haaretz (27 Sivan 1969); Y. Zemora, in: Moznayim, 43 (1976), 418–24; A. Feinberg, "Mavet ba-Mishpaḥah,", in: Moznayim, 42 (1976), 145–46; M. Baruch, Iyyun be-Shirei D. Ravikovitch (1973); D. Ben-Shem, in: Ma'alot, 8:4 (1977), 48–50; J. Hassine, Shirah ve-Mitos bi-Yẓiratah shel D. Ravikovitch (1989); R.E. Sherwin, "Two New Translations: The Poems of L. Goldberg and D. Ravikovich," in: Modern Hebrew Literature, 3:1–2 (1977), 38–42; A. Hirschfeld, "Ravikovitch aḥarei Asor," in: Yedioth Aharonoth (January 9, 1987); I. Pincas, "Leaving Traces," in: Modern Hebrew Literature, 1 (1988), 36–38; N. Carmel-Yonatan, "Tafnit Amitit," in: Moznayim, 61:5–6 (1988), 71–73; Y. Oppenheimer, "Al Litikah u-Politikah be-Shirat D. Ravikovitch," in: Siman Keriah, 22 (1991), 415–30; O. Yaglin, "Al Sheloshah Shirim shel D. Ravikovitch," in: Reḥov, 2 (1995), 71–81; Y. Mazor, "Al Shirat D. Ravikovitch," in: Iton 77, 206 (1997), 16–19; D. Meirovitz, in: Haaretz (April 29, 1998); M. Gluzman, "Ha-Kinah ha-Olezet," in: Helikon, 26 (1998), 19–26; R. Wichert, "Ha-Em, ha-Ahavah, ha-Milḥamah," in: Moznayim, 72:9 (1998), 34–36; H. Zamir, "Ha-Metim ve-ha-Ḥayyim, ha-Ma'aminim ve-ha-Akurim," in: Mikan, 1 (2000), 44–63; M. Ben-Naftali, "Keri'ah," in: Resling, 7 (2000), 65–79; E. Feliu, "Dahlia Ravikovitch o la libertat de la imaginacio," in: Tamid, 4 (2002–2003), 147–86; N. Keren, "Ẓa'akatah ha-Kevusha shel ha-Em ha-Alumah," in: Teoriyah u-Vikoret, 21 (2002), 193–200.

[Anat Feinberg (2nd ed.)]