Shimon Adaf’s Postmodern Fantasy, pt. 2

Once upon a time—in 2006 to be exact—the Israeli writer Shimon Adaf published a children’s fantasy titled Ha-lev ha-kavur (The Buried Heart). The book tells the story of two tweens, the boy Emir Mor-Tal and the girl Talia Pinto, who live in the sleepy development town of Mavo Yam in southern Israel. Emir’s terribly ordinary … Continue reading Shimon Adaf’s Postmodern Fantasy, pt. 2

Shimon Adaf’s Postmodern Fantasy, pt. 1

The Israeli writer Shimon Adaf turned 50 this summer. If no longer a wunderkind—in his 20s he had already won recognition for his first books, wrote lyrics for major Israeli rock musicians, co-founded a literary journal, and became an editor at a prominent publishing house—he remains an academic favorite (and university lecturer himself), considered by … Continue reading Shimon Adaf’s Postmodern Fantasy, pt. 1

The Jewish and not-so-Jewish Monsters of Classic Dungeons & Dragons

Anyone who played Dungeons & Dragons during its golden age from the late 1970s into the mid-1980s will know that the most nefarious villain was not, as television’s Stranger Things now has it, Demogorgon, but another demon lord. In a widely played (or at least owned) series of adventures published during this period, players were … Continue reading The Jewish and not-so-Jewish Monsters of Classic Dungeons & Dragons

Lilith Now

Lilith takes something of a hiatus from fiction for several decades after her appearance in Charles Williams’s Descent Into Hell. (See previous post.) There are exceptions, such as “Fruit of Knowledge,” a 1940 story by C. L. Moore first published in the pulp magazine Unknown.[1] Moore retells the biblical story of Eden and the Fall, … Continue reading Lilith Now

The Lilith of Charles Williams

In my last post, I remarked on how unsettling it is to find that the societal warnings and critiques posed in fantasy guise by George MacDonald in his 1895 novel Lilith have in our own day taken on real-life forms that might make any demon proud. Charles Williams’s metaphysical horror novel Descent Into Hell (1937) … Continue reading The Lilith of Charles Williams

The Lilith of George MacDonald

1. In C. S. Lewis’s The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, we learn that the White Witch is a descendant of "Adam’s first wife . . . Lilith.” The certain influence on Lewis in this suggestive genealogy was his beloved George MacDonald, whose novel Lilith first appeared in 1895 and was part of a … Continue reading The Lilith of George MacDonald

Anatole France, “La Fille de Lilith” (1889)

It should not be surprising that Lilith, the demoness from medieval Jewish folklore and mysticism and with earlier roots in rabbinic texts and near eastern mythology, would come into wide circulation in nineteenth century European art and literature. Her oriental ambience, occult cachet, and symbolic relevance for modernity’s anxious grappling with the nature and shifting … Continue reading Anatole France, “La Fille de Lilith” (1889)