Letters from an Imaginary Journey

Lea Goldberg


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In the fall of 1934, a young woman, Ruth, flees from an unhappy relationship. From Berlin, Cologne, Brussels, Bruges, Ostend, Paris, and Marseilles, she writes to her new love – an imaginary man named Immanuel. Yet her many faraway travels are only in her imagination; her letters are from an imaginary journey.

The individual cities she visits are presented as real and spiritual places: from observations in Nazi Berlin to her thoughts on literature, art, and more. The personal love story connects themselves with perspicacious descriptions from Europe in the mid-1930s.

Her letters do not only speak to Ruth’s love for Immanuel but also to the great love of Jews for European culture. The certainty of a farewell runs through this poetic, clever, melancholic novel – first published 1936/37, shortly after Lea Goldberg immigration to Palestine.

Lea Goldberg has become a cultural icon in Israel through her prolific stories for children, numerous books, and poems that have been put to music. She was a professor and founder of the faculty of comparative literature at Hebrew University in 1951. In 2017, the Israeli Government honored her by placing her on the new 100 Shekel note.

Her first book, Letters from an Imaginary Journey, was written in Hebrew in her native Kaunas, Lithuania. This Russian edition of her book is the second translation of this book; the first translation was into German in 2003.