On January 11, 1929, Itzik Manger made his first appearance in Warsaw, at the Yiddish Writers Association, and proclaimed, “The modern Yiddish literary group in Romania has as far as possible betrayed the local; its desire is to be at the center, and in the turbulence, of European culture.” His statement alludes to a paradigm shift, a movement from a closed system to a pluralistic one. But did Manger the poet erase his local traces or transfigure them?
Studying the young Manger’s creative process reveals the necessity of clarifying the relations among the varied elements of his cultural heterogeneity. At the beginning, he seems to reject Yiddish motifs, material, and sources, striving instead to correspond to his German models. With time, however, he emends his relationship to the great literatures, and does so by turning back to the local, this time considering it as something of equal worth, and thus valuing his minority culture more highly. Moving repeatedly back and forth between German and Yiddish, he finds his way to his own poetry, and gains confidence in reinterpreting and reconfiguring the motifs and material of his diverse sources. Combining the local and the European becomes for him a conscious process, the staging of the local as a means of making poetry. His transversal process reveals itself vividly in the variant-rich development of his autumn-poems.