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September 10, 1982 - Image 72

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1982-09-10

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

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72 Friday, September 10, 1982

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THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

Sholom Aleichem in Senational Limelight Again
With Aliza Shevrin-Translated Novel 'Marienbad'

Sholom Akeichem is an
indelible name in world lit-
erature and whether it is in
the stage-movie prod-
uctions of "Fiddler on the
Roof' or new translations of
his stories, his inerasable
role is a routinely accepted
presence for lovers of good
literature, as reminders • of
notable writings in Yiddish
retained in translations in
many languages, as a
steady diet in humorous
narratives.
When a Sholom Aleichem
novel, hitherto known only
to a limited number of Yid-
dish readers appears, for
the first time, in an English
translation, that becomes
important news. %.
When such a novel is of-
fered to English readers in a
masterfully-translated
English version by one who
has mastered Yiddish, it
adds to the excitement of
literary achievements.
This is th6 cur-
rently exciting news
about the publication, for
the first time in English,
of "Marienbad" by
Sholom Aleichem, trans-
lated by Ann Arborite
Aliza Shevrin and pub-
lished. by G.P. Putnam's
Sons.
Sholom Aleichem wrote
"Marienbad" in 1911, five
years before his death. Un-
like the usual Sholom
Aleichem stories, this one is
not about the shtetl. It is an
intrigue about the Warsaw
Jews who travel to Ger-
many. It is the place Polish
Jews frequented as a vaca-
tion spot, not necessarily a
health center.
It is novel but not a run-
ning narrative. It is com-
piled in 36 letters, 14 love
notes and 46 telegrams, and
there lies the genius of the
famous humorist and the
ingenuity of his weaving a
tale of intrigue, filled with
rumors, gossip, suspicion —
all intertwined in the satire
that spells Sholom
Aleichemism.
Marienbad as the Bohe-
mian spa that attracts the
nouveau riche, with Ger-
man and Polish Jews
fraternizing while hypoc-
risy rules the day, is the
means used in this story to
ridicule the pompous, to ex-
pose the suspected in-
fidelities, to mock the reli-
gious hypocrites.

SHOLOM ALEICHEM

other husbands, the in-
trigues and suspicions
multiply, friends become
bitter enemies, threats
emanate from all sides.
The letters and tele-
grams, spiced by the love
notes, assume the con-
tinuity necessary to create
the novelized form of a book
that enriches the already-
treasured Sholom Aleichem
library filled with the
cherished humorous Yid-
dish stories.
Aliza Shevrin's translat-
ing excellence elevates the
new Sholom Aleichem book
among the classics avail-
able in English. As a pro-
vision of the high quality of
the author's satire, the
translator selected this
example of the letters re-
produced on the book's jac-
ket:
"My dear husband the
learned Shlomo, may his
light shine forever.
"I just received your
letter and read it over .
twice. I didn't know
whether to laugh at your
foolishness or to cry over
my miserable luck. You
must be aware, Shlomo,
you are, after all, a ma-
ture man — that what you
write is plainly ridicul-
ous.
"As for your chiding me
about the shmattes I bought
at Wertheimer's — that's
just laughable. To you ev-
erything is shmattes. I re-
member that last year when
I bought a black fox capelet
with a sable collar at auc-
tion, you also called it a
shmatte.
"Not till all the furriers
appraised it and said it was
a steal worth three times
the price did you give in. I
can't wait till I come home
when I'm all well and you
can take a look at these
It all centers on the shmattes I bought .. .
beautiful young bride Be-
. . I see you don't know
ltzi, who is reportedly
having an affair in anything about Marienbad.
Marienbad, while con- You think Marienbad is just
stantly reassuring her Marienbad? Marienbad is
much older husband of Berdichev, Marienbad is
her fidelity. The latter Warsaw, Marienbad is the
passes notes around to Nalevkis. Everyone knows

what's cooking in the other
person's pot.
"You should hear what
Madam Yamayichke has to
say about Broni Loiferman,
about Leah'tzi Broichshtul,
about Madam Sherentzis
and Madam Pekelis! Or, you
should hear what they all
have to say about Madam
Yamayichke with her three
daughters and their
matches and bridegrooms
— your hair would stand on
end! . . ."
This helps provide an
understanding of the in-
volvements that created the
tumult depicted in
"Marienbad." The plot
gains added significance for
the reader in these tele-
grams which conclude the
story:

92.

Velvel Yamayiker, Marien-
bad, to Pearl Yamayiker,
Warsaw.

YOU WIRE I DIDN'T WIRE?
WIRED TWICE. WIRED
MAZEL TOV. WIRED DE-
PARTURE. WHY NOT
WIRED IMMEDIATELY
BRIDEGROOM KISHINEV
MARRIED? WHY NOT WAIT
MARIENBAD? WHERE
MATCHMAKER? WHERE
TCHOPNIK? WHERE BE-
LTZI? WIRE.
VOLF

93.

Pear! Yamayiker, Warsaw, to
Velvel Yamayiker, Marien-
bad.

HOW LONG THIS WIRING?
WIRED BELTZI ARRIVE.
KURLANDER MARIENBAD
OSTEND SEEKING BELTZI.
MARIOMCHIK DIVORCED.
LOIFERMAN MAKING
SCANDAL, WANTS SLAP
KURLANDER. ESTHER
CRITICAL. SOROKER
PROSECUTE -KURLAN-
DER. BROICHSHTUL,
SHERENTZIS, PEKELIS
WITNESSES. TCHOPNIK
SETTLED. SVIRSKY WIRES
THREE
KISHINEV
ENOUGH
MATCHES.
WIRES. COME HOME' IM-
MEDIATELY. WIRE.
PEARL

94.

Shlomo Kurlander, Marien-
bad, to Shlomo Kurlander,
Warsaw.

YAMAYICHKE WIRED BE-
LTZI SUDDENLY VAN-
ISHED. WAS MARIENBAD,
WAS OSTEND. RETURNED
MARIENBAD SEEKING BE-
LTZI. WIRED EVERYONE.
NO ONE WIRED BACK.
WHO AT HOME? WIRE
WHERE BELTZI? SHOULD
GO KISHINEV? WIRE UR-
GENT.
SOLOMON KURLANDER

95.

The reader, fascinated by
this novel, will have an
Beltzi Kurlander, Warsaw, to additional debt to Mrs.
Shlomo Kurlander, Marien- Shevrin in her historical
bad.
statement, in her introduc-
LIED. tion, about Marienbad and
YAMAYICHKE
TRAVELED MARIENBAD its place in Jewish life. She
BERLIN WARSAW. DE- recounts it as follows:
"The historical relation-
TAINED
BORDER
ALEXANDROVA. WIRED ship between Jewish War-
THREE TIMES SEND saw and Marienbad began
MONEY. EVERYTHING long before the events de-
LOST. JUST ARRIVED. scribed in Sholom
WHAT HAVE YOU DONE? Aleichem's work. Jews had
BECAUSE OF YOU settled in Marienbad as far
BROICHSHTUL DIVORC- back as 1820. This
ING. MARIOMCHIK AL- German-speaking resort
DIVORCED. town in western Bohemia —
READY
ESTHER SERIOUSLY ILL. part of the Austro-
SOROKER THREATENS Hungarian Empire at the
CRIMINAL PROCEEDINGS. time the events in the novel
took place and now part of
LOIFERMAN,
BROICHSHTUL, SHERE- Czechoslovakia — was
NTZIS, PEKELIS WIT- sought out by Russian and
TCHOPNIK Polish Jewry for its famous
NESSES.
SWEARS TO WIPE YOU health-giving mineral
OUT. DEMANDS THREE waters.
"By 1884 Marienbad
THOUSAND. WIRE.
BELTZI could boast of a synagogue.
In 1938, during the Sudeten
crisis, most of the Jewish
96.
community fled; those who
Shlomo Kurlander, Marien-
remained
were arrested by
bad, to Beltzi Kurlander,
the Nazis. The synagogue
Warsaw.
was burned down; its site is
THOUSAND THANKS. now a park.
"In 1945 a Jewish com-
GREAT NEWS. HELL WITH
SOROKER. SPIT ON munity was reestablished
LOIFERMAN. THREE and by 1949 it numbered
THOUSAND PLAGUES 196 inhabitants. Sadly, the
TCHOPNIK. LEAVING EX- current center of Jewish life
PRESS BERLIN WARSAW. in Czech Marienbad is an
old-age home with a chapel
KISSES.
SOLOMON and a kosher restaurant
frequented by its one
The explanatory essay by hundred residents drawn
translator Aliza Shevrin
provided special
supplementary significance
to this volume. Her ap-
proach to the theme of the
book, the interpretation she
provides for its backgroud,
the methods she used to
translate Yiddish terms,
combine to increase the in-
herited admiration for
Sholom Aleichem and to
lend special respect for her
ALIZA SHEVRIN
as a linguist with a love for
the language she trans- from all parts of Czechos-
forms into an English text.
lovakia.
Mrs. Shevrin calls atten-
"But in its Jewish hey-
tion to Sholom Aleichem's day Marienbad was an
‘ N own words with which he elegant spa, beautifully
introduced his "Marienbad" located in the Bohemian
novel: "Not a novel, but an hills, its centerpiece the
entanglement (ferplun- Tempietto-style
tenish) between two cities: Kreutzbrunen, the foun-
Warsaw and Marienbad, tain around which it was
told through 36 letters, 14 fashionable to stroll in
love notes and 46 tele- order to show off one's
latest social or sartorial
grams."
Thus, the Yiddish intro- acquisition.
"It provided many kosher
duction by the author him-
self, preparing the reader to restaurants for the more ob-
meet the middle class, the servant Jews, and there
bourgeois cast of characters. were secluded spots for
He wrote the book as he was trysting couples and lively
preparing to go to the cafes for those who wished
United States. He was ill to spend their leisure time
but that did not impair his watching the passing scene,
humor, his critical view of reading newspapers or play-
Jewish manipulators, his ing a game of Preference,
Sixty six, Okeh or
outlook on life.
\It is indicated by the Buntshak (popular card
translator that Sholom games of the early 1900s).
"Vacationers could make
Aleichem attended the
10th Zionist Congress in the rounds of several nearby
Basel in 1910 and some of spas when one or another
his impressions are re- place might have failed to
lated in some of the let- provide them with eligible
ters interchanged in the mates, satisfactory dal-
process of the "ferplun- liances or luck at cards.
"To Marienbad came
tenish" depicted in
wives of busy merchants,
"Marienbad."

mothers with marriageable
daughters, fortune hunters,
married men eager for
romantic adventures —
most of them, as Sholom
Aleichem would have it,
from the Nalevkis, named
after Nalewki Street, a
large east-west thorough-
fare in the Jewish section of
Warsaw, later to become the
infamous Ghetto.
"Back home on the
Nalevkis were the mer-
chants too busy to take time
off for the forsaken wives.
The stage was thus set.
Touching upon the
nuances involved in the
varying usages of Yiddish,
the Russian and Polish
phrases always resorted to,
"always Hebrew, the holy
tongue, which was often put
to unholy and quite secular
uses," Mrs. Shevrin ex-
plains her role as trans-
lator. Linguists will be de-
lighted with her definitive
application to her labors as
a translator from the Yid-
dish, especially in this ex-
pressive explanation:
"There are problems in
translation posed by the
structure of the Yiddish
language itself and the
availability of words to con-
vey certain universal mean-
ings. It is rich in exhorta-
tions to God, in insults and
in descriptions of poverty
and tragedy.
"In Yiddish we find the
increasingly emphatic ex-
pressions cchalia,"chas
v'chalila,' and `chas
v'sholom.' All these can best
be translated by only one
phrase: 'God forbid' — or
perhaps an old-fashioned
person might use 'Heaven
forfend.'
"But this paucity is more
than compensated for by the
abundant choices we are
given for the Yiddish word
`shayn.' We can choose from
`nice,' pretty,"handsome,'
`lovely,' good,"delicious;
`fine,' and 'beautiful,'
at the very least. I will leave
the understanding of this
fact to linguists."
"Every reader of Yiddish
will justifiably feel that
some particular idiom
might have been translated
differently or better, and I
would agree. I can only state
that I have been meticulous
in translating every
nuance, every phrase and
every idiom."
Already having gained
wide recognition as trans-
lator of other Sholom
Aleichem works, of stories
by Isaac Bashevis Singer
and other Yiddish writers,
she adds impressively to
that record with the newest
achievement. She credits
her parents and her hus-
band, who is on the Univer-
sity of Michigan faculty, for
the encouragement given
her in her devotion to Yid-
dish.
With the "Marienbad"
translation she has per-
formed an important role as
a meritorious Yiddishist
and as a brilliant trans-
lator.
—P.S.

rJ

1

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