Judaic Traditions in Literature, Music, and the Arts

Harold Bloom, Ken Frieden

Published by: Syracuse University Press

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Judaic Traditions in Literature, Music, and the Arts

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Early Yiddish Epic

edited and translated by Jerold C. Frakes

Unlike most other ancient European, Near Eastern, and Mediterranean civilizations, Jewish culture surprisingly developed no early epic tradition: while the Bible comprises a broad range of literary genres, epic is not among them. Not until the late medieval period, Beginning in the fourtheeth century, did an extensive and thriving epic tradition emerge in Yiddish. Among the few dozen extant early epics, there are several masterpieces, of which ten are translated into English in this volume. Divided between the religious and the secular, the book includes eight epics presented in their entirety, an illustrative excerpt from another epic, and a brief heroic prose tale.These texts have been chosen as the best and the most interesting representatives of the genre in terms of cultural history and literary quality: the pious “epicizing” of biblical narrative, the swashbuckling medieval courtly epic, Arthurian romance, heroic vignettes, intellectual high art, and popular camp.

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My Friendship with Martin Buber

by Maurice Friedman

Martin Buber’s philosophy of dialogue sought to express the human experience through the ways in which we encounter and interact with others. His “I-Thou” theory of dialogue and “I-It” theory of monologue expressed ways of understanding one’s place in the world in relation to others, objects, and especially God. Buber died in 1965, leaving behind a vast library of writings and ardent students and scholars eager to engage with his ideas. One of these scholars is Maurice Friedman. This text considers the professional relationship Friedman had with Martin Buber and presents it as one based on translating, interpreting, and intellectual curiosity. Beginning in the summer of 1950 and ending with Buber’s death, the book takes the reader through Buber’s three visits to America, his wife’s death, the author’s stay in Jerusalem, and the articulation of Buber’s culminating philosophy of the interhuman. To trace this chronology, the author draws extensively on his personal collection of letters exchanged with Buber. This is a close and meditative consideration of a deeply intellectual friendship shared between two extraordinary thinkers.

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Rhetoric and Nation

The Formation of Hebrew National Culture, 1880-1990

by Shai Ginsburg

Recent and commonly accepted criticism holds that written and spoken Hebrew reveals a shared logic, a collective rhetoric that is identifiable and can be traced as an evolving phenomenon throughout the centuries. In Rhetoric and Nation, Ginsburg charts the emergence and formation of the Hebrew discourse of the nation from the late nineteenth century through the late twentieth century. In doing so, he challenges these notions of a common rhetoric by considering three areas of writing: literature, literary and cultural criticism, and ideological and political writings. Ginsburg argues that each text presents its own singular logic. Some writing is determined by social and historical context. Other writings are determined by the biographies of their authors, still others by genre. Through close readings of key canonical texts, Rhetoric and Nation demonstrates that the Hebrew discourse of the nation should not be conceived as coherent and cohesive but, rather, as an assemblage of singular, disparate moments.

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Who Will Die Last?

Stories of Life in Israel

by David Ehrlich

"Who Will Die Last?" is a collection of David Ehrlich’s short stories originally written in Hebrew and each translated by a different person. The translators are writers, teachers, activists, doctors, or rabbis, and they all bring a unique voice to stories of life and the search for meaning within it. Ehrlich’s characters are quirky and uncomfortable in themselves, yet they are incredibly honest and worthy of the reader’s time and empathy. In “It’s All Right,” for instance, the character struggles with hiding his homosexuality from his parents, who are coming for an unexpected visit from Israel. “Three times I move the flowers, trying to give my hovel the appearance of a home. The pink carnations look a little confused.” Hidden homosexuality is a theme within the stories, and in this way becomes a metaphor for the many ways in which we all feel different from others and ashamed of this difference. Yet despite the odd characters living in distant or unlikely places, these stories of the struggle to belong show the humor and pathos of the shared human condition.

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