Writing in Tongues
Translating Yiddish in the Twentieth Century
Publication Year: 2014
Published by: University of Washington Press
Title Page, Copyright Page
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One day, soon after my family arrived in the United States, we ventured forth to find the Bronx. We were going to visit friends my parents had known in Poland and Germany, with whom they had endured a ghetto and several concentration camps and whom they had not seen in almost a decade...
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I was honored to have been invited by the University of Washington’s Jewish Studies Program to take part in the Stroum Lecture Series, and I am grateful to Althea Stroum, Paul Burstein, and Naomi Sokoloff, my longtime friend and interlocutor, for their kindness during my stay in Seattle...
Chapter 1. Translation Theory and Practice: The Yiddish Difference
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As the twenty-first century proceeds, Avrom Sutzkever’s (1913–2010) questions are haunting. With each passing year, his queries read increasingly like a meditation on the fate of his poetic language, on the future of memory and of poetry, on the fate of the Jews. Who and what, indeed, will remain of...
Chapter 2. How Tevye Learned to Fiddle
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It would be difficult to name any Yiddish work more widely known than Fiddler on the Roof. Except, of course, that it is not a Yiddish work at all. Still, it has made Sholem Aleichem’s (1859–1916) Tevye der milkhiker (Tevye the Dairyman), or, rather, multiple versions of it, into the most transportable...
Chapter 3. Remembering Jews: Translating Yiddish after the Holocaust
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Many years ago I got into trouble at an international Yiddish conference. My transgression? I suggested that Isaac Bashevis Singer wrote primarily for an English-speaking audience and for those—Jews and non-Jews alike—who were fairly remote from either the Eastern European world he purported...
Chapter 4. Returning to and from the Ghetto: Yankev Glatshteyn
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We have seen how the act of translation can be understood as betrayal, as transgression, and as rescue. The Italian adage “traduttore, traditore” (translator, traitor) has been amply illustrated and not only in the case of Yiddish. Translation, in this view, is a kind of lie in which violence is done...
Chapter 5. Concluding Lines and Conclusions
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Rarely have Yiddish texts received as much or as varied attention as Glatshteyn’s poem. It is certainly noteworthy that “A gute nakht, velt” has been translated so many times, but it is not a unique occurrence. Like the poem, I. L. Peretz’s (1852–1915) equally resonant and much-anthologized short...
Appendix A. Anna Margolin’s “Maris tfile” in Yiddish and Translations
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Appendix B. Twelve Translations of Yankev Glatshteyn’s “A gute nakht, velt”
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Publication Year: 2014