The Hidden Isaac Bashevis Singer

9780292728684: Paperback
Release Date: 1st March 2011

16 b&w photos, 2 line drawings, 2 maps

Dimensions: 152 x 229

Number of Pages: 280

Series Literary Modernism

University of Texas Press

The Hidden Isaac Bashevis Singer

Edited by
Seth L. Wolitz
Paperback / £22.99

Nobel Prize-winning author Isaac Bashevis Singer stands virtually alone among prominent writers for being more widely known through translations of his work than through the original texts. Yet readers and critics of the Yiddish originals have long pointed out that the English versions are generally shortened, often shorn of much description and religious matter, and their perspectives and denouements are significantly altered. In short, they turn the Yiddish author into a Jewish-American English writer, detached from of his Eastern European Jewish literary and cultural roots.

By contrast, this collection of essays by leading Yiddish scholars seeks to recover the authentic voice and vision of the writer known to his Yiddish readers as Yitskhok Bashevis. The essays are grouped around four themes:

  • The Yiddish language and the Yiddish cultural experience in Bashevis's writings
  • Thematic approaches to the study of Bashevis's literature
  • Bashevis's interface with other times and cultures
  • Interpretations of Bashevis's autobiographical writings

A special feature of this volume is the inclusion of Joseph Sherman's new, faithful translation of a chapter from Bashevis's Yiddish "underworld" novel Yarme and Keyle.

  • Acknowledgments
  • Introduction
  • I. The Yiddish Language and the Yiddish Cultural Experience in Bashevis's Writings
    1. Irving Saposnik: A Canticle for Isaac: A Kaddish for Bashevis
    2. Joseph Sherman: Bashevis/Singer and the Jewish Pope
    3. Avrom Noversztern: History, Messianism, and Apocalypse in Bashevis's Work
    4. Mark L. Louden: Sociolinguistic Views of Isaac Bashevis Singer
  • II. Thematic Approaches to the Study of Bashevis's Fiction
    1. Leonard Prager Bilom in Bashevis's Der knekht (The Slave): A khaye hot oykh a neshome (An animal also has a soul)
    2. Alan Astro: Art and Religion in Der bal-tshuve (The Penitent)
    3. Jan Schwarz: "Death Is the Only Messiah": Three Supernatural Stories by Yitskhok Bashevis
  • III. Bashevis's Interface With Other Times And Cultures
    1. Astrid Starck-Adler: Bashevis's Interactions with the Mayse-bukh (Book of Tales)
    2. Monika Adamczyk-Garbowska: The Role of Polish Language and Literature in Bashevis's Fiction
  • IV. Interpretations of Bashevis's Autobiographical Writings
    1. Nathan Cohen: Revealing Bashevis's Earliest Autobiographical Novel, Varshe 1914-1918 (Warsaw 1914-1918)
    2. Itzik Gottesman: Folk and Folklore in the Work of Bashevis
    3. Janet Hadda: Bashevis at Forverts
  • V. Bashevis's Untranslated "Gangster" Novel: Yarme un keyle
    1. Joseph Sherman: A Background Note on the Translation of Yarme un keyle
    2. Isaac Bashevis Singer: Yarme and Keyle: Chapter 2, translated by Joseph Sherman
  • Appendix: Seth L. Wolitz and Joseph Sherman: Bashevis Singer as a Regionalist of Lublin Province: A Note
  • Glossary
  • Notes on Contributors
  • Index

Seth L. Wolitz holds the L. D., Marie, and Edwin Gale Chair of Judaic Studies at the University of Texas at Austin, where he is also Professor of French, Slavic, and Comparative Literature.

"I can't think of another anthology, nor of any individual study of Singer, that sets out so rich and varied a sense of his work in its contexts."

Lawrence Rosenwald, Anne Pierce Rogers Professor of American Literature, Wellesley College