Words & Images

The Jerusalem Literary Project
In conjunction with Ben Gurion University of the Negev
and in cooperation with The National and University Library Jerusalem

Great Jewish Authors of Our Time

Videotaped Interview Series

Words & Images: the Jerusalem Literary Project is a non-profit endeavor dedicated to the video documentation of in-depth interviews with the leading Jewish writers and thinkers of our time, who are invited to talk about their oeuvre and personal history and explore the connections between their life's work and their Jewish identity. The project is carried out in cooperation with Ben Gurion University of the Negev and the National Library in Jerusalem.

The Words & Images interviews are unique, both in their scope and in their profound and original approach. Each author is interviewed during the course of one or two full days by another author, editor or literary scholar who has an interest in or affinity with the writer's work. To have the conversation be as free-flowing and intimate as possible, the interview is conducted in the language the writer uses for his or her work.

Thus a permanent store of invaluable documents is being created. They will constitute a resource for study and discourse even more valuable with the passing of time and relevant to many public spheres and scientific disciplines. These include, in addition to literature and literary criticism, psychology and psycho-social inquiry into creative processes and their roots in personal and collective biography; cultural studies of the Jewish experience in the half century after Hitler's holocaust and Stalin's cultural genocide; explorations of the place of Jews in post-war European and American cultures; of the dialectical tensions between Zionism and Judaism and between the different centers of Jewish creativity; and of the condition of writing at the beginning of the twenty-first century and the electronic era.

Authors interviewed as of October 2006

  • Aharon Appelfeld (Israel)
  • Saul Bellow (USA)
  • E.L. Doctorow (USA)
  • Ida Fink (Israel)
  • Nadine Gordimer (South Africa)
  • Haim Gouri (Israel)
  • Imre Kertesz (Hungary)
  • Ivan Klima (Czech Republic)
  • George Konrad (Hungary)
  • Arnost Lustig (Czech Republic)
  • Norman Manea (Romania / USA)
  • Albert Memmi (France)
  • Arthur Miller (USA)
  • Harry Mulisch (The Netherlands)
  • Amos Oz (Israel)
  • Cynthia Ozick (USA)
  • Grace Paley (USA)
  • Philip Roth (USA)
  • Moacyr Scliar (Brazil)
  • George Steiner (UK)
  • Julian Stryjkowski (Poland)
  • S. Yizhar (Israel)

Edited programs available on DVD

  • Settling My Accounts Before I Go Away
    Saul Bellow
    Interviewed by Norman Manea
    "Bashevis was a conniving old ganev. I asked him, 'why have you never asked me to translate another story after the first one?' 'Because,' he said, 'they'll say it's you and not me who wrote this'"
  • If You're Lucky, You Start with the End
    Arthur Miller
    Interviewed by Mel Gussow
    "Intermarriage is a good thing. I think it will move Judaism out into the general population. But no... I didn't marry three gentile women because I was trying to spread Judaism"
  • A Practical Lover of Freedom
    Philip Roth
    Interviewed by Ross Miller
    "In Portnoy's Complaint, I was enacting aesthetically what Portnoy is enacting erotically. I wasn't looking for my freedom as a sexualized man, but for my freedom as a writer"
  • A Jew, But Not of the Synagogue
    Amos Oz
    Interviewed by Eleonora Lev
    "My parents used to boast that Tarzan was Jewish. They wanted me to be a combination of... a subtle, creative, erudite Heine or Spinoza, but with the body of a Johnny Weissmuller"
  • An Idolater at the Altar of Literature
    Cynthia Ozick
    Interviewed by Hana Wirth-Nesher
    "Christianity seems quite primitive, compared to the respectable theologies of Judaism and Buddhism; it's just a pimple on the rump of Buddhism... Oh, some of my best friends are Christians"

These programs were edited with the support of the Posen Foundation.
Words & Images plans to edit all its interviews into shortened programs when further funds are available.

Words & Images

Simon Peres, Honorary President
Eleonora Lev, Literary Editor
Prof. Geoffrey Hartman (Yale University), Co-chairman; Senior Academic Advisor
Yitzhak Livni, Co-chairman
Prof. Sidra DeKoven Ezrahi (Hebrew University of Jerusalem), Consultant

Project initiated and directed by
Nathan Beyrak

Words & Images: beylev@zahav.net.il