Intimacy in Crisis: Family Dysfunction in Israeli Literature for Preschool Readers
This chapter addresses how family crises are represented in Israeli literature written for young children. The foundation for the discussion is the assumption that the bulk of children’s literature bestows a false conception of “family” by obscuring its repressive, authoritarian aspects and accentuating the image of happiness, security, and belonging. However, this chapter points to a trend in Israeli literature observed since the 1980s: the publication of works for young children that seek to expose the repressive aspects of family life. In particular, they are stories based on the absence of intergenerational communication and the presence of emotional stress or even parental neglect. These stories present a sober, critical view of the high-powered traditional institution that, in children’s literature, is traditionally perceived as animagined, organic, almost-idyllic system, which in fact it is not. Even though the publication of such works in Israel coincides with similar trends worldwide, it is not a self-evident occurrence, given the character of Jewish-Hebrew culture, which sanctifies family life. This chapter discusses two works of children’s fiction, by Nurit Zarchi and Meir Shalev, that address the tension that arises between adult intimacy (husband and wife) and intergenerational intimacy (parents and children).
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