Yiddish Literature Project

Yes, I thought I’d start another little (or perhaps not so little)

project: – (actually, I’m going to start three, but I’ll get around to defining the others at a different time).

I’ve been collecting

Yiddish literature in bits and pieces for a while now, though I can’t really remember how it all started. – I’d once read some Isaac Bashevis Singer

(which is, I suppose, as much Yiddish literature as most English-speakers get around to) and that intrigued me, being a world that seemed at once

fascinating and unique; – but even then I don’t suppose it struck me that Singer actually came from anywhere and it wasn’t just him; that there was,

in fact, a whole literary tradition behind him, similarly fascinating and unique. … – Oh yes, now it comes back to me: – I bought The Penguin

Book of Jewish Short Stories, in which, arranged in chronological order, Singer came seventh; – but the tale that impressed me the most was the

second one by Sholem Aleichem. And then somehow from there I discovered that the three founders of modern Yiddish literature were Y L Peretz, Sholom

Aleichem and Mendele Moykher-Sforim. – But even then I was casual in my acquisitions: – I picked up some Peretz and Aleichem easily enough, but

Moykher-Sforim was proving more elusive. – Then one day, wandering into a secondhand shop in a certain British seaside town, I happened to pick up

Joachim Neugroschel’s vast compendium, Great Works of Jewish Fantasy, and suddenly found I’d discovered a whole world of literature I never

knew existed.

So here’s what I’m going to read:

  • Great Works of Jewish Fantasy, ed. Joachim Neugroschel
  • Selected Stories, by Y L Peretz (sometimes I L Peretz – Yitzak, or Itzak)
  • Tevye the Dairyman and The Railroad

    Stories, by Sholom Aleichem

  • Yekl and Others Stories of Yiddish New York, by Abraham Cahan (written though in


  • The Family Mashber, by Der Nister (“The Hidden One”)
  • Dybbuk and Other Writings, by S


  • The Travels and Adventures of Benjamin the Third, by Mendele Moykher-Sforim

and no doubt some other

books I find along the way.


I’m going to include a few others titles, which I already had lying about but which I

forgot (or at least for some reason didn’t include):

  • The Collected Stories of Isaac Bashevis Singer (which, oddly,

    isn’t by any means all of them, even at 600+ pages)

  •  The Enemy at his Pleasure, by S Ansky (a non-fiction work, subtitled

    A Journey Through the Jewish Pale of Settlement during World War I)

  • Night, by Elie Wiesel (which, since it said

    translated from French, I’d assumed was originally written in French – but it wasn’t, it was written in Yiddish).


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