When you move to a new place, you have the chance to reinvent yourself. But what happens when you return back to the old country?
The Israeli author Lea Goldberg (1911-1970) was a playwright,poet, and one of Israel‘s literary pioneers. Her only novel, And This Is the Light (Vehu Ha’Or), takes place in 1931. It begins as a twenty-year-old, Nora Krieger, returns from university in Berlin to her small-town home in rural Lithuania.
Nora has changed. She’s more mature, bright-eyed, and ready for great things. She’s anxious to show off her new self to the people she grew up with–but she’s unprepared to find that her town has changed, too. It’s more sinister and xenophobic. And Nora’s old neighbors are filled with a nascent anti-Semitism that foreshadows the Second World War (the book was written in 1946).
Later in life, Goldberg became an academic, and she was also the Hebrew translator of Chekhov, Ibsen, and Tolstoy’s War and Peace. She was a prolific author of children’s books and poems. But Goldberg revealed little about herself–except, of course, in the sense that every story is a path inside a writer’s mind.