Itzik Manger, the self-anointed “tailor from Wallachian land,” was one of the most popular Yiddish poets in prewar Poland, attracting immense crowds of excited readers. Years later, Manger received similar celebrity treatment as a visiting poet in Israel. Cautiously accepted by Hebrew pre-1948 critics, he was welcomed with unprecedented warmth in Israel in the 1960s by the Israeli public and by a cultural establishment long hostile to Yiddish language and culture. Yet the many translations of Manger’s Yiddish poetry and prose into Hebrew reflect a careful rewriting of Manger and the Yiddish culture that he came to represent. Analyzing Hebrew translations of the imaginative literary history, Noente geshtaltn (Close Figures) and the late poem “Kh’hob zikh yorn gevalgert” (For Years I Rolled About), I argue that Manger’s work and Manger himself are transformed to fit the prevailing norms in Hebrew literature, revealing the distinct space created for Yiddish literature within Israeli culture.


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pp. 53-84
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