Israel Shamir

Biography

Israel Shamir is an Israeli translator and a scholar. A native of Novosibirsk, Siberia, a grandson of a professor of mathematics and a descendant of a Rabbi from Tiberias, Palestine, he grew up in Israel where he moved to in 1968. He served as paratrooper in the army and fought in the 1973 war. After a long career as a journalist and writer, which included assignments in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia during the war, a spell at the BBC, a long sojourn in Japan and a work for various Israeli newspapers, he turned to more scholarly quests.

         He translated and annotated the cryptic works of S.Y. Agnon, the only Hebrew Nobel Prize winning writer, from the original Hebrew into Russian. His work was published and reprinted many times in both Israel and in Russia. The Haaretz newspaper called this “the best translation of Agnon into any language”. His Commentary to Agnon opened the oblique world of Jewish tradition to non-Jewish readers, said the newspaper. Shamir’s reputation as a Judaic scholar was further enhanced when in 2006 his mammoth annotated translation of a medieval Hebrew classic Sefer Yohassin (The Book of Lineage) was published by Zacuto Books. Shamir dealt also with modern Hebrew literature: his translation of an Israeli ultra-modernist Gabriel Moked’s book The Variations was published in St Petersburg. Another of his translations, the Israeli-Arab Wars by President Herzog, was published in London.

         Jewish subjects were not the only theme of his broad interests. Shamir translated selected chapters of Joyce's Ulysses, which were published in Moscow, Tel Aviv, New York and Austin, Texas. They were also included in the anthology of best Joyce translations by Moscow Raduga publishers. Shamir also translated the Odyssey, a second or third such endeavour in Russian literary history. Following an idea of Borges, Shamir attempted to translate the Odyssey as read by the eyes of Bloom, the hero of Ulysses. The Odyssey and selected chapters of Ulysses in Shamir’s translation were published in 2000 in St. Petersburg, Russia.

Shamir also published many works of non-fiction dealing with the question of the Jewish people and Palestine. They are available in many languages on the web and in printed form. He is a firm believer in full integration of Jews within the society of the countries they live in.

Shamir (60) lives in Jaffa and spends much time in Moscow and Stockholm ; he is father of three sons.


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