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A Manuscript Edition of 'Shlomo and Qohelet' by Micha Joseph Lebensohn / השירים 'שלמה וקהלת' ו'יעל וסיסרא' למיכה יוסף לבנזון על-פי כתב-יד

אברהם הולץ, מיכאל יוסף כהן לעבענזאהן and Avraham Holtz
Tarbiẕ / תרביץ
כרך נב‎, חוברת ג‎ (ניסן-סיון תשמ"ג), pp. 469-496
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/23596010
Page Count: 28
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A Manuscript Edition of 'Shlomo and Qohelet' by Micha Joseph Lebensohn / השירים 'שלמה וקהלת' ו'יעל וסיסרא' למיכה יוסף לבנזון על-פי כתב-יד
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Abstract

Shlomo and Qohelet, an epic poem in two parts by Joseph Lebensohn (known as 'Michal'; 1828-1852), was first published in 1851. Literary scholars, historians and critics have long discussed the structural and artistic coherence of the two parts of this work and their relationship to the Song of Songs and Ecclesiastes, both traditionally ascribed to King Solomon. Referring exclusively to Michal's notes and correspondence, many have heretofore indicated that various words, lines and stanzas were emended by Michal's father or by Michal himself in direct response to his father's suggestions or to those of S. D. Luzzatto, to whom Michal had sent an early version of the poem. The full text of the hitherto unknown manuscript published here was written in 1850 and is listed on page 4 (number 1328) in A Reel Guide to the Poetry and Belles Lettres Collection. Reels 1-26 from the Library of The Jewish Theological Seminary of America (Ann Arbor, Michigan. University Microfilms International, 1977). The poem as it appears in this manuscript is to be considered the primary text of the composition and as a new source for comparison of the variants in the 1851 and 1869 printed editions. Most particularly, the last eight stanzas of the standard text of Qohelet have been the subject of much critical controversy. Some viewed them as an appendage, added to assuage Luzzatto and Michal's father and mute the original poem's heretical tone. Others, pointing to the final lines of Ecclesiastes, interpreted the stanzas as integral components, determining the work's full meaning and significance. Since this manuscript does not contain the controversial stanzas, it supports the claim of those critics who surmised that these verses are later additions inserted to serve specific purposes. Moreover, it is very likely that this text of the manuscript edition may indeed reflect the version sent to Luzzatto. In addition, an examination of the 1851 and 1869 editions in light of this manuscript raises several new issues: (1) Since the manuscript lacks any explanatory notes and comments, when, by whom and under what circumstances were these composed and made a standard part of the printed versions of the work; (2) Who determined the precise wording of the poem; (3) Who revised the order of the stanzas in each of the printed editions that appeared before and after Michal's death. In brief, in light of this manuscript, what ought to be considered the authoritative version of the poem as composed and intended by the poet? Since the manuscript also includes Yael and Sisera, another epic poem by Michal, the variants of this poem are also published here in a separate section of the article.

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