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Melukhat Sha'ul, Joseph of Troplowitz (Ha-Efrati), Vienna 1794

מלוכת שאול - First Edition - Haskalah

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  • Lot Number 54439
  • Title (English) Melukhat Sha'ul
  • Title (Hebrew) מלוכת שאול
  • Note First Edition - Haskalah
  • Author Joseph of Troplowitz (Ha-Efrati)
  • City Vienna
  • Publisher Anton Schmid
  • Publication Date 1794
  • Estimated Price - Low 200
  • Estimated Price - High 500

  • Item # 2616388
  • End Date
  • Start Date

Physical Description:

First edition. Frontispiece, [13], 2-95 ff., octavo, 163:104 mm., small tears,  wide margins, age and damp staining. A very good copy bound in contemporary half leather and marbled paper over boards, rubbed


Detailed Description:   

The first original long historical drama in Hebrew. The subject of Melukhat Sha'ul, a play in six acts, is the Biblical King Saul. The drama follows the events described in the Bible, with slight deviations, from the return of Saul from his victory over Amalek to his tragic death at Gilboa. In the first act, Saul has a premonition that this is his final victory. He meets the prophet Samuel who informs Saul that his kingdom will not last and Saul' s depression turns into madness. To aouse him from his depression a flute player, the future Kind David is summoned. The second act describes the friendship of Saul's son Jonathon and David, Saul's brooding, and the incipient love of Saul's daughter Michal for David. The third act deals with the war with the Philistines and David's victory over Goliath, the fourth with Saul's melancholy and plotting against David, the fifth Saul's attempts to capture David. The final act deals with Saul and Jonathon's death in battle against the Philistines. This act deviates from the biblical story, for here David meets Saul on the battlefield and in a very moving scene Saul asks David for forgiveness.

The play, despite some naivety, shows exquisite sensitivity, psychological insight, and great tragedy. Waxman writes that the style of Efrati is, "exquisite, mostly Biblical but frequently tinged with Talmudic words and expressions. . . . The larger part of the drama is written in rhyme. Alliteration and other devices are also used in order to give the drama rhythmic swing." Zinburg describes several of Saul's monologues as, "with their powerful speech and mighty lines polished like steel sustain comparison with Moses Hayyim Luzzatto's masterful verse." A popular play Melukhat Sha'ul was published twelve times to 1922 and there was a Yiddish translation, which was reputedly performed in Galician theatres by amateur actors.

The volume begins with verse, an אזכרת אהבה from Troplowitz for Joseph Rattibor, introductory remarks from the author, and a list of characters. Next is the text of the play and at the end of the volume an epilogue from Isaac Baer Levinsohn, (1788-1860), Hebrew author, and a founders of the Haskalah in Russia.

Little is known of Joseph (Ha-Eftati) of Troplowitz's (1770-1804) life. A maskil, he was a resident of the small Prussian town of Troplowitz, was a teacher in the upper Silesian town of Ratibor, and afterwards lived in Prague. He was a poet, contributing to Measef, completed two long poems, and was about to issue a book of poems, but was prevented from doing so by his untimely death.


Hebrew Description:

המלך הראשון על ישורן. [מחזה] משש מערכות מאת יוסף האפרתי מטראפלוויץ.

לפני השער ציור העלאת שמואל באוב ומתחתיו: למה הרגזתני; בין דף י-יא ציור של דוד ומתחתיו: חיה שיי כי נקמתי נקמתך.
דף [3,א-5,א]: "רגשות נפשי עבור הספר הנכבד אשר חבר מורי ... יוסף האפרתי ... ממני תלמיד המחבר ... יוסף בן לא"א כ"ה יקותיאל זלמן בראטיבר במדינת אבער שלעזיען". חרוזים, פותחים: הקיצו רעיוני נפשי משנתכם עורו.
דף [5,ב-7,א]: הקדשה לכבוד המחבר, בחרוזים, מאת "ידידך ... אלי' בהמנוח ... מ"ה יוסף מ"מ ז"ל אב"ד דק"ק קעמפנא". פותחים: האזינו חשמנים אף רוזנים שמעו. דף [7,ב-8,ב]: חרוזים לכבוד המחבר מאת אהרן פאלאק. פותחים:
עורי צחות לשון עבר בל עוד תחפירי.



Bibliography of the Hebrew Book 1470-1960 #000111226; Waxman Ill p.129-32; Zinberg VIII p. 207-10