Yiddish literature

Several examples of medieval Yiddish literature have survived. These are for the most part glosses written in the western Yiddish dialect as margin notes of Hebrew religious manuscripts. An unusual discovery is a collection of religious and secular poetry dating back to the thirteenth to fifteenth centuries, found in the late nineteenth century in the genizah of a Cairo synagogue.

Until the eighteenth century, Yiddish literature by and large was made up of oral tradition, such as fairy tales, fables and songs, just as in the surrounding cultures.
A printed Yiddish version of an Italian romance by Buovo d'Antona (1540, modeled on the English work by Sir Bevis of Southampton) was published in Yiddish in Germany by Elijah Levita in 1542. The many versions of this work, titled Bove Mayse [Yiddish, Bova's Stories], were found in all countries having Ashkenazy populations. The work was ever-popular, particularly among female readers, which explains why its title was sometimes translated as Bobe Majse (Yiddish, Grandma's Stories; a much more pejorative translation would be: Women's Talk).

In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, a number of midrashim were translated into Yiddish, as well as the lives of the great figures of Judaism and popular secular literature, printed under the joint title Majse Buch [Yiddish, Book of Stories]. Texts of performances associated with the religious ceremonies of Purim (purimshpil) were being written and sometimes even published in Yiddish.

Historical songs have also survived in Yiddish, some of which were incorporated into the synagogal liturgy, such as those commemorating the victims of a massacre during Cossack uprising of 1648. There were also epic poems based on Biblical and Talmudic themes, as well as excerpts from the Bible printed in Yiddish that were especially meant for women. Most popular was a book titled Tsene urine [Hebrew, Come Out and Look], which was written by a rabbi named Yaakov ben Itzhaak Ashkenazy (1550-1628) of Janow Lubelski, first published in 1622.

Chasidic literature, written both on religious subject matter as well as within the realm of folklore, appeared in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. In addition to Talmudic treatises and commentaries on the Bible, the teachings of various tzaddikim were also published in Yiddish, often in the form of parables and aphorisms. Among the most beautiful are stories about the life and teachings of Baal Shem Tov: Shivechey ha-BeShT (Hebrew, Praise of Besht, 1809); and the parables of rabbi Nachman of Braclaw.

The beginnings of modern Jewish literature are connected with Haskalah, although the main thrust of this movement was not associated with writings in the Hebrew language. Enlightenment supporters recognized Hebrew as the language of the Jewish elite. Yiddish writings advanced the idea of Enlightenment among the masses. Menachem Mendel Levin translated the Book of Psalms into Yiddish, and was also the author of anti-Chasidic comedies that have not survived. Itzhaak Euchel and Aron Wolfsohn, colleagues of Moses Mendelssohn, wrote the following comedies: Reb Henoch oder was tut me damit [Yiddish, Mr. Henoch or What to Do With This?] and Leichcinn und frummerlei [Germanized Yiddish, Lekkomy�lno�� i bigoteria], modeled on purimshpile. The Galician Haskalah activist J. Perl, in addition to many works in Hebrew, also left manuscripts in Yiddish. In 1864, S. J. Abramowicz, known by his pen name Mendele Mojcher Sforim, published his first short story in Yiddish in the weekly Kol Mevaser [Hebrew, Voice of the Messenger], a supplement to the Hebrew periodical Ha-melits [Hebrew, Speaker], published in Odessa. The popularity of his short stories gained him the nickname "father of Yiddish literature". His short stories The Nag [old horse -translator's note] and The Jewish Don Quixote (1875) were the first works in Yiddish to be translated into Polish (under the titles Szkapa and Donkiszot zydowski).

In the second half of the nineteenth century, two other classic authors of Yiddish literature were writing--Sholem Aleykhem and Isaac Leib Peretz. The former developed his own unique style, drawing on Jewish folklore, combining humor and sadness, lyrical reflection and satire. Peretz introduced European styles into Yiddish literature, such as realistic short stories (remaining under the influence of Polish Positivism), as well as modernism and symbolism, adapted to Jewish culture, which was called "Chasidic neo-Romanticism". The novel Hasidish (Yiddish, Chasidic Motifs, 1900) belonged to the second group, as did the plays Di goldene keyt (Yiddish, The Golden Chain, 1903), Baynacht oyfn altn mark (Yiddish, Night on the Old Market Square, 1906).
In interwar Poland, modern Yiddish literature flourished, particularly that which was associated with Yiddishism, and also with new literary movements, such as Expressionism. During this period, groups such as Yung Idysh and Khaliastre were active in certain circles of artists and poets, including Expressionists and Futurists, such as M. Broderson, U. C. Grinberg, P. Markisz and M. Rawicz. In Wilno, a group of poets and artists known as Yung Vilne was founded, whose members included C. Grade and A. Sutzkever. Symbolism and surrealism existed in prose and poetry at that time; I. Manger was one of the leading surrealist. Other prominent Yiddish writers of this period included S. Ash, J. Opatoshu, the brothers I. Y. and I. B. Singer, Y. Perle, M. Burshtyn and I. Rabon.

In the early 1930's, there was a workers' poetry movement, ideologically connected with leftist Jewish movements, such as the Bund and Poale Zion), as well as with communism. In the twentieth century, collections of songs began to be published, some of which can be categorized as urban folklore, such as Folkstimlech (Yiddish, On a Folk Note, 1920), by M. Gebirtig. From 1900 to 1925, Yiddish literature, particularly poetry, flourished in the United States and Soviet Russia, too.
Yiddish oral tradition played a special role during the Second World War, when conditions in the ghettos meant that professional writers and poets were also limited to this genre. The Ringelblum archive [now housed at the Jewish Historical Institute in Warsaw - translator's note] contains several hand-written testimonies regarding this phenomenon.

Yiddish literature disappeared along with the Polish Jews. After the Second World War, very few writers continued writing in Yiddish. These included the prose writer I. B. Singer in the United States; A. Sutzkever in Israel; and J. Zonshayn and E. Rayzman, who published their poetry in Poland. See also: press; theater.

REKLAMA: kosmetyka Opole Salon urody Opole mezoterapia Opole kosmetyki do mezoterapii preparaty do mezoterapii | Chcesz przedłużyć rzęsy, zobacz przedłużanie rzęs opole a może gładka wydepilowana skóra na nogach, depilacja laserem diodowym opole. Cierpisz na brak włosów, przerzedzone włosy na głowie. Skorzystaj ze sposobu na włosy: mikropigmentacja skóry głowy Odwiedźmiejsce, w którym znajdziesz rozwiązanie na problemy skóry głowy i włosów. Klinika Włosa - to miejsce, gdzie twoje włosy odżyją. Odpoczynek na kajakach w okolicach Opola, proponujemy spływy kajakowe, zobacz: spływy kajakowe opolskie | spływy kajakowe Mała Panew | kajaki Mała Panew Wybierz się na spływ kajakowy razem z rodziną.














Adam Mickiewicz Institute, Mokotowska 25, 00-560 Warsaw tel. (48-22) 44 76 100,
fax. (48-22) 44 76 152;