Aharon Shabtai
(Mandatory Palestine, 1939)   
Aharon Shabtai

Aharon Shabtai was born in 1939 in Tel Aviv and spent his childhood on Kibbutz Merhavia. After his military service he studied Greek and philosophy at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and at the Sorbonne in Paris. He was awarded his doctorate in 1979 for his thesis Home and Family in the Tragedies of Aeschylus. Shabtai previously taught Theater Studies at Hebrew University (1972-1985), and since 1990, Greek literature at Tel Aviv University.

Since the publication of his first book in 1966, Shabtai has published sixteen poetry books and has become one of the most acclaimed Israeli poets, although his sharp views, powerful modes of expression and critical approach to political and social matters have also granted him a controversial status among contemporary Israeli poets. Some of his poems are mercilessly intimate in their reference to his personal experiences with depression, his erotic sprees and an unhappy marriage. Shabtai’s tone in general is direct and uncompromising. He was awarded the 1993 Prime Minister’s Prize for Translation as the foremost Hebrew translator of Greek drama including Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides and Aristophanes as well as the 1999 Tchernikhovsky Prize.

© Rami Saari

Prayer Book
Passover, 2002

Also on this site
Translator’s Introduction to J’Accuse
By Peter Cole

Freedom Wins in the End
Analysis by Rami Saari

In Hebrew
Artzenu (Our Land), Ha-kibbutz ha-meuchad, 2002.
Politiqa (Politics), Even Hoshen, 1999.
Be-xodesh May ha-nifla’ (In the Wonderful Month of May), Siman Qri’a/ Ha-kibbutz ha-meuchad, 1997.
Ha-lev (The Heart), Siman Qri’a/ Ha-kibbutz ha-meuchad, 1995.
Metaziviqa (Metazivika), Zmora Bitan, 1992.
Ziva (Ziva), Zmora Bitan, 1990.
Gerushin (Divorce), Mosad Bialik, 1990.
Ahava (Love), ‛Am ‛Oved, 1988.
Begin (Begin), Keter, 1986.
Ha-hartza’a ha-rishona (The First Lecture), ‛Akhshav, 1985.
Sefer ha-klum (The Book of Nothing), Sifriyat Po‛alim, 1982.
Ha-xamor (The Donkey), ‛Eqed, 1982.
Xut (Thread), Proza, 1981.
Xara’, mavet (Shit, Death), ‛Akhshav, 1979.
Ha-po’ema ha-beytit (The Domestic Poem), Siman Qri’a, 1976.
Qibbutz (Kibbutz), Ha-kibbutz ha-meuchad, 1973.
Xadar ha-morim (Teachers’ Room), ‛Akhshav, 1966.

In French
Le Poème Domestique, Editions de l’Eclat (Paris), 1987.
La Première Lecture, Editions de l’Eclat (Paris), 1990.

In English
Love and Other Poems, The Sheep Meadow Press (New York), 1997.
J’accuse, New Directions (New York), 2003.

Individual poems by Aharon Shabtai have been published in Arabic, Bulgarian, English, Estonian, French, German, Greek, Italian, Polish, Russian, Serbo-Croatian and Spanish.

In Arabic
On the poet and his book (in English) J’Accuse

In English
Search for Shabtai’s page in the catalog of the Instititute for the Translation of Hebrew Literature

The publisher’s page on J’Accuse

On J’Accuse

literaturfestival berlin
Shabtai at the fourth Berlin Poetry Festival

Presentation of the poem ‘Rippin’

The poem ‘Culture’

In Finnish
Two poems in Finnish

In French
Cahiers Critique de Poesie

In German
literaturfestival berlin
Shabtai at the fourth Berlin Poetry Festival

In Hebrew
Two poems on political activist Tali Fahima


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