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Classic Yiddish Stories of S. Y. Abramovitsh, Sholem Aleichem, and I. L. Peretz

Ken Frieden is the B. G. Rudolph Professor and Director of the Judaic Studies Program at Syracuse University.

Publication Year: 2011

A comprehensive collection of best short fiction by the three classic Yiddish authors.

Published by: Syracuse University Press

Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. i-vi

Contents

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pp. vii-viii

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Introduction

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pp. ix-xvi

The translation of a complex literary work often sounds simplified or diminished, like the piano reduction of a symphony. While its themes and variations remain, the voices and timbres differ. Our goal in this book has been to translate classic Yiddish stories in ways that express—in addition to their special melodies and harmonies—the diversity of voices and colors, overtones...

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A Note on the Translations

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pp. xvii-xviii

The translators of this volume have attempted to balance literal accuracy with literary readability. When all is said and done, classic Yiddish stories are well served only by English versions that are good literature. In a few places, instead of relying on explanatory footnotes or the glossary at the end of this book, our translations add information in the body of the text. Where

S. Y. Abramovitsh

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pp. 1-2

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The Little Man; or, Portrait of a Life

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pp. 3-31

As for me, I was born in Tsviatshits and my name is Mendele the Book Peddler. Most of the year I’m on the road, traveling from one place to another, so people know me everywhere. I ride all over Poland with a full stock of books printed in Zhitomir, and apart from that I carry prayer shawls, fringed undergarments, tassels, shofars, tefillin, amulets, mezuzas, wolf tooth charms, and...

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Fishke the Lame

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pp. 32-54

Last year, in the summer of 1868, after I stocked up some fresh goods and packed my wagon with all sorts of books, I headed out on my travels to those distant places where, thank God, Reb Mendele and his wares are still valued. You’ve got to know those Jews. They like it when the pages of a book are all colors and sizes, the letters are a little blurred, and every page is printed in different...

Sholem Aleichem

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pp. 55-56

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Hodel

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pp. 57-73

You’re surprised at Tevye, Sholem Aleichem, it’s so long since you’ve seen him? He’s gone way down hill, you say? Out of the blue he’s gone gray? Ach, if you knew the troubles, the pain that your Tevye’s lugging around with him! Like it says in the prayers,...

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Chava

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pp. 74-88

“Give thanks unto the Lord, for He is good”1—however God guides the world, it’s for the best. I mean, it needs to be for the best, because just try to be a big brain and do better! Take me—I wanted to be clever. I read the verse frontward, read the verse backward, and when I saw that it didn’t do any good, I gave up and said to myself: Tevye, you’re a dope! You’re not going to change...

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Holiday Dainties

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pp. 89-94

They say, your modern breed nowadays, that is, and I wish the whole cheeky lot in a bad place, that people will be happy if a mishmash is made, like mine’s thine, thine’s mine? . . . 1 Well, I say the day such a thing comes to pass, we’ll be all at sixes and sevens. It’ll mean mischief. Like with bells on if...

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Advice

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pp. 95-107

“Oh, by the way, my dear, there’s a young man been coming round every morning, noon, and night for three level days now and finding you always out. Just frantic to see you, he says!” That was the greeting waiting for me upon arrival once from one of my trips away....

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Joseph

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pp. 108-129

You was saying how America was a lend of business? Never mine! Det’s how it’s suppose to be. But a fella getting merry wid a goil for business? Det, you’ll poddon me, is mean end doity. Now, I ain’t preaching no morality here, but I am telling you it’s a fect; when nine-end-ninety procent of grinnhorns in dis country is getting merry for business, it is making me med! End if I am meeting...

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A Business with a Greenhorn

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pp. 130-134

You was saying how America was a lend of business? Never mine! Det’s how it’s suppose to be. But a fella getting merry wid a goil for business? Det, you’ll poddon me, is mean end doity. Now, I ain’t preaching no morality here, but I am telling you it’s a fect; when nine-end-ninety procent of grinnhorns in dis country is getting merry for business, it is making me med! End if I am meeting...

I. L. Peretz

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pp. 135-136

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The Shtrayml

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pp. 137-146

I’m a hatmaker, but what really matters is that on rare occasions I make a magnificent fur hat, a shtrayml. The truth is that I earn most from peasants’ coats and porters’ furs. And sometimes Leyb Milner drops in with his sable fur coat.
Seldom, very seldom, does a shtrayml turn up, for who wears a shtrayml? A rabbi! And the shtrayml outlives him....

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Kabbalists

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pp. 147-151

In bad times, even the value of Torah—the best merchandise—falls.1
Nothing was left of the yeshiva in Lashtchev but the head of the yeshiva, Rabbi Yekl, and a single student.
The head of the yeshiva is an old, thin man with a long, disheveled beard, and the light in his aging eyes has gone out. Lemekh, his most beloved student,...

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Teachings of the Hasidim

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pp. 152-157

It is known unto all—the whole world knows that our master and teacher, the Rebbe of Nemirov, served God in ecstasy.
Happy is the eye that was privileged to see the joy,1 the fire and fervor, the sheer ecstasy that emanated from him—as from the sun—and covered the entire world in a golden, fiery glow. What a delight that was to behold!...

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The Rebbe’s Pipe

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pp. 158-162

You don’t have to be an old timer to remember how, a while back, Sarah-Rivka lacked not only children but bread, God help us! Pure and simple—bread.
Her husband Haim-Barukh was always a great hasid. From the very beginning, ever since his father-in-law (may he rest in peace—an honest man) brought him back from a town outside Lublin....

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If Not Higher!

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pp. 163-166

Every morning during the week of Penitential Prayers, the Rebbe of Nemirov would vanish—disappear without a trace!
He was nowhere to be seen: not in the synagogue, not in either of the study houses, not in a prayer minyan, and certainly not at home. The front door stood open, and anyone could come or go at will. No one would steal...

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Between Two Mountains

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pp. 167-179

You’ve no doubt heard of the Rabbi of Brisk and the Rebbe of Biale, but not everyone knows that Noah, the pious Rebbe of Biale, was once a brilliant student of the Rabbi of Brisk.1 He studied with him for a few good years, then disappeared and “went into exile” for a couple years before he was revealed as a hasidic leader in Biale....

Biographical Essays

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p. 180-180

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A Celebration of Yiddish Literature

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pp. 181-206

On the occasion of the twenty-fifth anniversary of Solomon M. Abramovitsh’s literary activity, I would like to share with readers of the journal Voskhod [Sunrise] a few fragmentary items about the life of the person we are honoring, and to offer a brief survey of his works. The reader might find something...

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Memories of Sholem Aleichem

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pp. 207-240

It is an old, generally accepted rule that one needs to look nearby for the secret of every extraordinary person’s talent: in his origins and in his childhood milieu—with parents, relatives, and sometimes also with teachers and friends.1 If one tries to apply this rule to discover the secret of the extraordinary...

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Around Peretz

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pp. 241-274

Most of the memoirs about Peretz that I have come across since he died characterize Peretz the writer, the community activist, and the cultural leader. Almost no one has said anything about his life at home, his habits, his dealings with friends and strangers. This is certainly not because Peretz’s private life...

Glossary

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pp. 275-284

Bibliography

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pp. 285-286

Back Cover

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p. bc-bc


E-ISBN-13: 9780815650881
E-ISBN-10: 0815650884
Print-ISBN-13: 9780815632917
Print-ISBN-10: 0815632916

Page Count: 304
Illustrations: 3
Publication Year: 2011

Edition: 1
Series Title: Judaic Traditions in Literature, Music, and Art