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December 12, 1986 - Image 26

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1986-12-12

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Friday, December 12, 1986 THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

Orchard Lake Road.
Mile North of Maple,
West Bloomfield



Continued from preceding page

poses of humor. It is only
because he had first set up
a standard that lapses and
quirks were recognizable
as such in Shalom
Aleichem's fiction.
The same concentrated
effort, though toward quite
different literary ends, is
to be found in the work of
I. L. Peretz, and in the
patient instruction he gave
to young writers who vis-
ited his Warsaw home.
Peretz was an intellectual,
and he tried to smooth out
the language in order to
make it resemble the nar-
rative tone of contempor-
ary European literature,
ceasing to draw attention
to itself in any peculiarly
folksy way. Do not com-
bine Germanisms with
Hebraisms in the same
phrase, he warned one
correspondent, not "dem
poet's yiesh" (the poet's an-
guish, possessive Ger-
manic, subject Hebraic)
but "dem poet's fartsveyf-
lung" (both Germanic), an
admonition emphasizing a
desire for evenness that
the next generation of
Yiddish writers would de-
light in defying. Stylisti-
cally, Peretz is less in-
teresting than his pre-
decessors to those modern
readers who enjoy a
flavorful Yiddish, but there
is no doubt that in making
the language into a fluid
European literary instru-
ment Peretz had the most
profound' influence on its
The pioneering efforts of
the three masters, though
extraordinary, were not
sufficient in themselves to
bring about the full reg-
ularization of literary Yid-
dish. Every subsequent
Yiddish writer remained
engaged in this basic task.
Of his own beginnings in
literature, about 1896, the
short-story writer Lamed
Shapiro (1878-1948) writes:
At that time Yiddish was
still "jargon." We did not
yet understand that every
language is a jargon — a
blending of indigenous
formations with sounds
and expressions from
other languages. We did
not yet have a grammar,
that is to say, no
grammarian had yet put
, together a text book ex-
plaining how Yiddish
should be spoken and
written based on the man-
ner in which Yiddish was
spoken and written ...
At this point, Prof. Wisse
called attention to the follow-
ing in an interesting observa-
"The Mendele Project of the
Hebrew University in
Jerusalem is about to begin
publication of a Variorum
Edition of the complete works
in which the process of Men-
dele Mosher Seforim's liter-
ary developments will be
clearly shown."

Perhaps all that has thus
far been drawn upon will
serve the purpose of giving
new courage to the Yiddish-
ists, new strength in reviving
an ebbing language.

The Russian

While the addendum, the
following item, is not related
to translations and trans-
lators, its Yiddish aspect
merits referring to it in this
With the compliments of
the information department
of the Soviet embassy in
Washington, we are treated
to an article by Vladimir
Ashkenasy, described as a
Novosti special correspon-
dent. It is entitled "Sovietisch
Heimland Jubilee." It de-
scribes acclaim for the Soviet
literary magazine which was
awarded the Order of the
Friendship of Peoples by the
Soviet government. It reports
acclaim for the Yiddish lan-
guage magazine by Jews in
several countries and specifi-
cally mentions "Glatstein,
one of the greatest American
symbolist poets," without giv-
ing a first name. Then the
article proceeds to offer this
It is illustrative that the
two latest Sovietisch Heim-
land issues dedicated to
the jubilee were totally
given to works by young
authors born and bred in
the USSR and yet masters
of Yiddish. How do they
perfect their Yiddish? Ever
since 1969 Sovietisch
Heimland has been offer-
ing lectures in Yiddish, a
number of Yiddish-
language textbooks have
been issued, and a Yiddish
language and literature
course was set up at the
Higher Literary Courses in
Moscow in 1981, and a
Russian-Yiddish dictionary
has been published.
Says. Israeli writer Iosif
Lipski: In the West there
has been talk about a
decay of Jewish culture in
the USSR. This is a lie, just
like allegations to the ef-
fect that the Jewish reli-
gion has been outlawed in
the USSR. In reality
Jewish culture has been
living through a boom in
the USSR. Not a single
Yiddish-language periodi-
cal in the West can ever af-
ford the standard main-
tained by Sovietisch Heim-
land. Moreover, many of
them are on their last legs,
not because there is a lack
of people willing to read in
Yiddish, but because there
is a desperate lack of Yid-
dish writers. The latest
Sovietisch Heimland issue
carried works by 31 young
authors born and bred in
the USSR who write in
Yiddish. So, I hold that the
future of Yiddish-language
lies not with the US or Is-

Continued on. Page 28


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