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.
"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