Method of organization: In principle, by subject and language, but three years ago, when I returned to Tel Aviv after a stay of 10 years in Paris, I sent all my books in a container from Marseilles to Ashdod and since then, nothing has gone back to the original arrangement.
Lending policy: Poetry - no, prose - yes.
Most recent acquisitions: The poems of Rabbi Moses Zacuto, one of the greatest Italian Hebrew poets, in Devora Bregman's edition, and "Lubiewo" by the young Polish writer Michal Witkowski (fabulous!).
Oldest book in the library: [Heinrich Hoffmann's] "Der Struwwelpeter," in the 1891 German edition in Gothic type. This cruel book belonged to my grandmother from Berlin and the illustration on the cover gave me nightmares all during my childhood.
The book you aspire to translate: For a long time I dreamed of translating the French poet Stephen Mallarme, one of the greatest modernists in European poetry, and maybe the hardest poet of all to translate. In recent months I've been succeeding - for the first time - in translating him, so that as of now I don't have new aspirations. Maybe, one day, Abraham Sutzkever, the great Yiddish poet. In any case, I have two iron-clad rules in translating poetry: to translate only works that I love (the translation of poetry in Israel is in any case work that doesn't earn any money), and to translate only dead poets (less chance that they will harass me with e-mails and phone calls).
The book you can't seem to get through: The Book of Job. For me, this book is the most tremendous treasure-house of poetry in Hebrew. It's so beautiful that I almost forget how sad it is. But the happy ending in the last chapter doesn't seem believable to me, so I never read it all the way through.
Your favorite writers: In English: Allen Ginsberg, the New York Beat poet, whose poem "Kaddish" has been hypnotizing me for many years now. In French: Charles Baudelaire, the accursed Parisian poet whose works I've been translating for four years now, and I've been going around with him for so long now that I feel a bit like his widow. In Hebrew: Dahlia Ravikovitch, the most beloved of all, but also Uri Zvi Greenberg (I've been reading this racist poet with a barf bag nearby, but I can't help admiring the beauty of his poetry), Avot Yeshurun and Lea Goldberg. And in prose: Thomas Mann, Tolstoy, Flaubert, Proust.
Your favorite line from a book in your library: "Oh, you merry-makers on earth's back, / do you know that your life is nothing? / You grew from the root of death - and / every branch to its own root returns" [English translation by T. Carmi, in "The Penguin Book of Hebrew Verse"]. Each time I am amazed anew to see how modern this very short poem is, which was written in the 11th century by Shmuel Hanagid - a general, a statesman, a Torah scholar, and above all a wonderful poet who wrote, among other things, some of the most beautiful poems of love between men in Hebrew.
The dedication you hold most dear: Abraham Sutzkever gave me his book of diary poems, "Tzvillingebruder" ("Twin Brother") and wrote in it, in Yiddish: "To my twin brother."
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