Sadeh, Pinḥas

views updated


SADEH, PINḤAS (1929–1994), Israeli writer. Born in Lvov, Sadeh was taken to Palestine in 1934 and lived for a while in Tel Aviv. A radical individualist and autodidact, he then worked as a shepherd in the Jezreel valley, and later as a night watchman in Jerusalem. His first publications were a story in Ba-Ma'aleh (1945) and a poem in Ittim (1946). The first collection of poems, Massa Dumah ("Vision of Dumah"), positioned him in the tradition of Hebrew Expressionistsm and his first novel, Ha-Ḥayyim ke-Mashal (1958, 1968; Life as a Parable, 1966), foreshadows Expressionistic principles, mainly, the work of art as a cry of protest and an expression of the self. In confessional style, interweaving reflections and meditations on human existence and nature with personal experiences, Sadeh's autobiographical novel rejected the ubiquitous collective experience in favor of far-reaching individualism. The novel echoes perceptions and views which are closer to Christianity and to marginal religious sects in Jewish history (such as Shabbateanism and to the Frankists) than to the norms dear to Zionist society in Israel of the 1950s. With his work distinguished by images taken from his own life, Sadeh writes about love, erotic excitement, and loneliness, contemplates sin and grace, alludes to the New Testament and to Kierkegaard's and Dostoyevsky's oeuvre. Following the success of this unusual novel, Sadeh became, both on account of his writing and his sequestered, self-dramatized way of life, an idol for young Israelis and would-be artists. In 1967 he published Al Maẓẓavo shel ha-Adam ("Notes on Man's Condition") followed by the novella Mot Avimelekh ("The Death of Avimelech," 1969). Sadeh published further collections of poetry, in which he extols feminine beauty and women's self-sacrifice and reflects on nature, transience, and mortality. Among these are Sefer ha-Shirim ("Book of Poems"), El Shetei Ne'arot Nikhbadot ("To Two Honorable Young Ladies," 1977), and Sefer ha-Agasim ha-Ẓehubim (1985). He also wrote essays on Bialik (1985) and books for children (Ha-Ganav, "The Thief," 1988), edited a selection of European stories, Mivḥar ha-Sippur ha-Eiropi (1959), and anthologized ḥasidic legends (English translation as Jewish Folktales, 1989; 1990). Sadeh's Collected Poems appeared in 2005. Sadeh, who lived in his later life in Ramat Gan, received the Bialik Prize in 1990. For translations of his work see the ithl website at


J. Mundi, Siḥot ba-Ḥaẓot-Laylah im Pinḥas Sadeh (1969); A. Cohen, "Ha-Sipporet shel P. Sadeh," in: Hadoar, 50 (1971), 84; S. Lindenbaum, "Vision or Poetry? P. Sadeh's Poems," in: Modern Hebrew Literature, 4, 1 (1978), 43–46; T. Reshef, "Keri'at Ma'amakim," in: Prozah, 101–102 (1988), 7–9; O. Bartana, "Min ha-Pesikhologiyah el ha-Nevu'ah," in: Moznayim, 64:9–10 (1990), 13–16; A. Navot, "Ha-Maẓav ha-Revi'i," in: Mozanyim, 65:6 (1991), 4–9; M. Forcano, "Pinkhas Sadeh, o de la memoria ferida," in: Anuari de Filologia, 17, e4 (1994), 105–116; Y. Barezl, "Pirkei P. Sadeh," in: Hadoar 76:6 (1997), 15–17; Z. Luz, Ha-Meẓiut ha-Aḥeret: Al Shirat P. Sadeh (2000); E. Ben Ezer, Le-Hasbir la-Dagim: Edut al Pinchas Sadeh (2002); Y. Laor, in: Haaretz (July 1, 2005); M. Harel, in: Haaretz, Sefarim (July 13, 2005).

[Anat Feinberg (2nd ed.)]