Abstract

This article offers a formal analysis of Y. L. Peretz's first extended narrative in Yiddish. Focusing on the psychological and structural features of the narrator as a failed mediator between cosmopolitan modernity and traditional Jewishness, the article locates this narrative historically in the development of modern Yiddish fiction and demonstrates the various techniques through which Peretz expands the stylistic possibilities for Yiddish fiction from post-Enlightenment satire to naturalism, symbolism, and other proto-modernist strategies. At the heart of Peretz's distinctive achievement are his use of a local, archaic Yiddish to estrange the traditional characters from the narrator, and his manipulation of a fragmented narrative structure to subvert the positivist assumptions of the narrator's modernizing ideology. What emerges, therefore, from the author's "failure" to create a realist travelogue is an anticipatory experiment in the development of Yiddish High Modernism.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1527-2028
Print ISSN
0021-6704
Pages
pp. 63-88
Launched on MUSE
2008-06-14
Open Access
No
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