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Regular version of the site

Article

Alexander Goldstein’s "Tethys or Mediterranean Mail": A Russian-Israeli Levantine Literature Idea Reconsidered

Ab imperio. 2018. Vol. 4. P. 253-280.

Winner of both the prestigious Russian Little Booker and Anti-Booker prizes, Alexander Goldstein’s book Parting from Narcissus (1997) advanced the Levantine idea as a new perspective enabling Russian-Israeli literature
to become an integral part of the Mediterranean cultural ecumene. This concept was designed to facilitate both the writer’s literary self-fashioning and his cultural absorption. Having mobilized the notion of the Levantine
to valorize his position in a broad Russian literary context, Goldstein, however, failed to embody the main tenets of post-orientalist multiculturalism associated with this notion; rather, he used the Israeli context to uphold Russian imperial views. Circulating in Israel exclusively among immigrants from the former Soviet Union, the Russian-Israeli Levantine literary idea with its ostensible cosmopolitan perspective clashed with the prevailing ethnonational segregationism of this milieu. The lack of acceptance by his Russian-Israeli audience was a major factor impelling Goldstein eventually
to abandon his Levantine idea and to embrace the Jewish ethnonationalism that permeates the books he wrote after Parting from Narcissus.