Wieseltier, Meir

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WIESELTIER, MEIR (1941– ), Hebrew poet and translator. Born in Moscow, Wieseltier came to Israel as an eight-year-old child. He grew up in Netanyah and later studied English literature, history, and philosophy at the Hebrew University. In the early 1960s, having spent some time in England and France, he became one of the leading figures of the so-called "Tel Aviv Circle" (with Yona *Wallach and Yair Hurvitz) which sought to break with the ironic, impersonal, and non-political writing of poets such as Nathan *Zach and imbue Hebrew poetry with a refreshing, avantgardist and experimental spirit. Wieseltier was co-founder of the literary magazine Siman Keriah. His first collection of poems, Perek Alef, Perek Beit ("Chapter 1, Chapter 2"), appeared in 1967, followed two years later by Meah Shirim ("100 Poems"). Other collections include Kaḥ ("Take It," 1973), Davar Optimi, Asiyat Shirim ("Something Optimistic, The Making of Poems," 1976), Penim va-Ḥuẓ ("Interior and Exterior," 1977), Moẓa el ha-Yam ("Exit into the Sea," 1981), Kiẓẓur Shenot ha-Shishim ("The Concise Sixties," 1984), Ii Yevani ("Greek Island," 1985), Mikhtavim ve-Shirim Aḥerim ("Letters and Other Poems," 1986), and Maḥsan ("Storehouse," 1994). Wieseltier's poetry is subjective, often unconventional in diction and tone, and occasionally deliberately full of pathos. Loss, death, and the ambiguities of the human predicament are the major themes of his oeuvre. Underlying some of the poems is a pronounced disdain for bourgeois norms and superficial ideologies and at the same time an ambivalent relationship to Tel Aviv, the city in which he resides. His "poetry of iconoclasm," as it was once defined, shows the influence of French surrealism and of modern Anglo-American poetry. Wie seltier is also known as one of the finest translators of English, French, and Russian poetry into Hebrew. He translated a number of Shakespearean tragedies and novels by Virginia Woolf, E.M. Forster, and Charles Dickens. In 2000 he was awarded the Israel Prize for literature. A collection of selected poems in English translation appeared under the title The Flower of Anarchy in 2003; individual poems have been translated into various languages. Further information concerning translation is available at the ithl website at www.ithl.org.il.


E. Sharoni, "Poem-Making as Life's Way of Struggle," in: Modern Hebrew Literature, 3:3 (1977), 41–47; Y. Hurvitz, "Ha-Sha'ot ha-Gedolot ve-ha-Temunah ha-Nidaḥat," in: Siman Keriah, 7 (1977), 464–67; O. Bartana, "Lo Navi be-Doro," in: Davar (September 21, 1984); Y. Besser, "Ha-Ra'av le-Millim ve-Koved ha-Adamah," in: Yedioth Aharonoth (August 7, 1981); M. Perri, "Kol ha-Guf Panim," in: Siman Keriah, 18 (1986), 402–12; G. Moked, "Al 'Mikhtavim' shel M. Wieseltier," in: Akhshav, 51–54 (1986), 548–51; Y. Oppenheimer, "Dibbur ke-Davar Optimi: Al M. Wieseltier," in: Ḥadarim, 6 (1987), 70–80; Sh. Yaniv, "Wieseltier and the Evolution of the Modern Hebrew Ballad," in: Prooftexts, 9:3 (1989), 229–46; A. Hirschfeld, "Mul ha-Even ha-Kashah ha-Mitkatevet," in: Efes Shetayim, 2 (1993), 34–43; S. Nash, "Elohim ve-Adam be-Shirat M. Wieseltier," in: Hadoar, 81:10 (2002), 27–29; N. Buchwitz, "Shittut be-Merḥav Lo Mukar: Safah Poetit Ḥadashah bi-Khtivato shel Wieseltier ha-Ẓa'ir," in: Alei Siaḥ, 48 (2002), 106–21; idem, "Ha-Postmoderniyyim ha-Rishonim," in: Gag, 10 (2004), 26–43.

[Anat Feinberg (2nd ed.)]