Ansichten und Aussichten- Festschrift für Hans-Heino Ewers
Nominating a Children’s National Poet: The Belated Canonization of Chaim Nachman Bialik in Hebrew Hegemonic Children’s Culture: Yael Darr
In my paper I examine the belated canonization of Chaim Nachman Bialik as the Hebrew children’s national poet in Mandatory Palestine, two decades after he was widely recognized – in Palestine and abroad – as the unchallenged Hebrew national poet. This surprising delay in assigning Bialik the role of the children’s national poet is explained by theideological dissonance between him and the Zionist Labor movement, whose ideology reigned over children’s culture at the time.
I will show the methods with which Labor movement taste-setters eventually managed to bypass these ideological obstacles. They were motivated by the need to establish a literary icon for children, as well as by strong emotions felt towards Bialik, who had a crucial role as a Zionist leader in their own youth, before they had immigrated to Eretz Israel (Hebrew Palestine). This belated canonization of the national poet in hegemonic children’s literature sheds light on the complex relations between the adult and children’s literary fields, especially during the period of accelerated nation building, in which children were assigned a special role.
A canon with no history
Traditionally, a repertoire of literary models, texts, and writers is considered ‚classic‘ after its high quality and national significance have been broadly acknowledged over time. In this sense, the Hebrew canon for children is quite unique. As opposed to many literary children’s canons, the Hebrew children’s canon was crystallized shortly after its initiation. In Bourdieu’s terms, it had no history of generational struggles for recognition and...