Maggid meisharim, . Joseph *Caro 's diary on his heavenly revelations, and in other writings of kabbalists. Memoirs and Introductions, memoirs, from those of Glueckel of *Hameln of the 17th century to the diary of Anne *Frank , may be termed "unconscious autobiographies" which were not intended for publication. The valuable autobiographical material, which was sometimes included in the introduction to halakhic works, is the nearest approach to autobiographies of the rabbis. Notable among them are Isaac *Abrabanel 's introductions to his biblical commentaries, and those which were produced under the stress of two great catastrophes which overtook european Jewry, the expulsion from Spain in 1492 and the *Chmielnicki . Prominent among those who described their sufferings in the expulsion from Spain was the author Isaac *Caro (see. Meir ha-kohen and Moses. Abraham *Mat of Przemysl (in.
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He blamed the stars for the tragedies he had suffered and the misfortunes which befell him. Probably his belief in astrological determinism psychologically allowed him to lay bare unashamedly the different facets of his character (of which he was far from proud). Other Autobiographic Elements and sketches, in line with Modena's work, almost full autobiographies can be reconstructed from the letters of . Moses ayyim *luzzatto , and from the letters of other writers. Some autobiographic elements and sketches are to be found in asidic literature where various rabbis sincerely describe their own spiritual development,. G., shakespeare . Naman of Bratslav. In kabbalistic literature, another type of autobiography is to be found: kabbalists describing their visions and the development of their mystical insight. The most noteworthy among these are the visions of Solomon *Molcho which, together with some actual autobiographical passages, form a full spiritual autobiography in the modern sense (Abraham. Joseph Rothenburg, ayyat Kaneh, azon Shelomo molkho,. Such elements are found also.
In short passages and sometimes long stories, modena describes in detail a 20-year span in his life. The sincere revelation of the inner self in Modena's account has not been equaled by any hebrew writer until modern times. He candidly describes his addiction to card-playing, which repeatedly threw him into debt and obliged him to use any means and choose any work to earn enough to cover them. He depicts in detail the tragic fate of his three sons: one was killed in an unsuccessful alchemic experiment, the second, in a street fight, and the third left Italy after being condemned to row in the galleys without his father ever learning of his. His various illnesses, those of his wife and of his relatives, are discussed in detail, as shmoop well as his dreams, his visions, and his astrological beliefs. A profound cynical skepticism can be discerned in his writings. Modena's work may also be seen as an apology: the apology of a man who saw himself as a failure in every way (history today contradicts this judgment).
This autobiography is probably the first to be written in professional Hebrew by a minor writer about a comparatively trivial life. The focus is not on any major historical event, nor on the author's participation in a noteworthy adventure. Jagel used the autobiographic form to express his misery and to complain about the injustice summary done to him. Due to its concentration on the personal. Gei izzayon may be described as the first autobiography to be written in Hebrew. Earlier works belong more to the field of historiography which were written as personal experience. Modena's hayyei yehudah, probably the most representative work of the genre and literally the best-developed autobiography written in Hebrew during the middle Ages is ayyei yehudah The life of Judah by leone (Judah Aryeh) *Modena .
The thread of this literary expression was picked up centuries later by a much more accomplished autobiographer, david ha-*reuveni . In a detailed autobiography he describes his birthplace in the lands of the ten Lost Tribes, his numerous adventures on his way to Italy and especially in Palestine, and his political and diplomatic efforts to organize an army to conquer Palestine. He even includes in his work a detailed expense account, listing his expenditures at every step of his travels. His autobiography is, in fact, an apology: he blames various treacherous friends for the failure of his venture. Another autobiography, also an apology,. Gei izzayon by Abraham *Jagel (16th century). It is an imaginative vision of the afterworld containing autobiographical elements. Jagel, in prison, relates his life story and how he came to be imprisoned, to his dead father who appears to him in a dream and takes him on a trip to the various heavenly spheres.
Literary nonfiction: biographies & Autobiographies - video
This was mainly due to the intrinsic nature of the art itself. The need for self-scrutiny (the characteristic of autobiography) has greater impetus than the biographic sketches of authors. Medieval and Renaissance writings, letters, introductions to books, apologies, and personal diaries contain autobiographic elements and sketches much more than biographic elements. In these works, however, the writer also focused on the historical event and the part he had played in it rather than on his own personal life. Maimonides, describing his life in his letters, gives an account of his daily working schedule and of certain aspects of his life. azariah dei *Rossi , in the introduction to his. Me'or Einayim (Mantua, 1574 describes the ferrara earthquake of 1570 which he witnessed and which in part was the stimulus of the book.
Legendary autobiography, since the early middle Ages, another aspect of autobiography was known in Jewish writings: the legendary autobiography. Eldad ha-dani , the first writer of this autobiographic form (appeared in Babylonia in the late ninth century claimed to be a member of the tribe of Dan. In his work, he describes the life of the ten Lost Tribes in detail. This, however, forms only part of his whole account, much of which is devoted to his various adventures in faraway lands among strange peoples. This narration is typical of imaginary or legendary autobiography.
The same is true of Gedaliah *Ibn yaya and many others, including the first Hebrew medieval chronologist, *Sherira gaon . Personal accounts sometimes formed polemic material in a religious conflict,. G., the biography of Anan, the founder of the karaite sect. Sherira describes him as a frustrated, ambitious, evil man; the karaites wrote hagiographies to extol his deeds. Biographic elements are scattered throughout Hebrew epistolary, hagiography, and historiography, but as a literary form, biography came into its own only in modern Hebrew literature.
An exception to this, however, is the biographical introduction to the. Ma'yenei ha-yeshu'ah of Isaac *Abrabanel by baruch uzziel. Baruch Forti (azketto) in 1551. The author probably gleaned Abrabanel's autobiographical fragments from his introductions to commentaries to joshua, kings, and deuteronomy, and from his responsa to saul Kohen. Paltiel wrote his. Megillat yuasin in the middle of the 11th century on the history of his family. Historiography Written as Personal Experience, the autobiographic genre was a more apt vehicle of literary expression than the biography in the middle Ages.
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The only interest the medieval writer and reader could find in the story of a great personage was in the moral to be drawn from his actions and his character. This ethical and didactic approach, driven to the extreme, rendered almost all Hebrew writings about the major personalities into heroic legends and not authentic biographies. The cycle of stories about such figures as Abraham *Ibn Ezra , *Namanides , *Rashi , *Judah. Samuel he-asid , Isaac house *Luria , *Israel. Eliezer ba'al Shem tov , and many others are legendary hagiographies, having little direct historical data and giving a partial portraiture of the protagonist. Historians like Abraham *Ibn daud , author. Sefer ha-kabbalah, only briefly mention the sages and scholars who transmitted the torah. When he dwells on actual personalities, like the scholars in "The four Captives his description is purely hagiographic.
Historians and chroniclers were mainly concerned with events and not personalities as such; a person was important only insofar as he influenced or participated in a major historical event. The lives of major Jewish personalities are, therefore, outlined only briefly in Jewish historiography, and there is no full biography in the modern sense. Historiographers, who were mainly interested in the process of the transmission of the torah, tended to list scholars and rabbis in chronological order, briefly describing the achievements of each in the field of learning, and only mentioning by the way such details as birthplace, travels. Jewish historiography, focusing primarily on historical events, developed the art of historical description at the expense of biography. The Influence of Hagiography on biography. Hagiography, however, influenced the fate of biographic literature probably more than historiography. Hebrew medieval writers who concentrated on an historical figure and gave some biographic facts, usually added legendary or panegyric details and thus turned their accounts into hagiographies. Medieval Judaism viewed the actions of an outstanding personality as model behavior to serve as an exemplum. No full description of his life and personality (his faults resume and his virtues) was, therefore, needed.
, which may well be considered an autobiography, *Josephus ' apologetic. Vita, and *hagiographic works, autobiographies and biographies are completely unknown among Jews in ancient times. The first biography known is that of *Saadiah gaon which was written by his two sons She'erit and *Dosa at the request of *isdai ibn Shaprut (published. Mann, jqr, 11 (1920/21 4238, and. Scheiber in ks, 40 (1964/65 571). In Medieval Hebrew Literature, the biographic genre was also unknown to medieval Hebrew literature and there is almost no writing in the field. The lack of development of this literary vehicle is rooted in two main aspects of medieval Hebrew culture.
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