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Introduces readers to comic and tragic masterpieces spanning 150 years of Yiddish drama.
Offering snapshots of a pivotal era in which the Jews of Europe made the transition from a traditional to a more modern world, the Yiddish plays translated and collected here wrestle with issues that continue to concern us today: changing gender roles, generational conflict, class divisions, and religious persecution. In their introduction to the volume, Joel Berkowitz and Jeremy Dauber place the plays in the context of the development of modern drama and Yiddish drama and examine their treatment of social, political, and religious issues. The many ways in which the plays address these issues make them transcend their own time, exciting a new generation of readers and theatergoers.
“‘Landmark Yiddish Plays’ is itself a landmark. It brings to English audiences expert and carefully annotated versions of some of the finest Yiddish plays produced.” — The Jewish Daily Forward
“This is one of the freshest, liveliest works I have seen in contemporary Yiddish studies. The plays are important, yet little known, adding immeasurably to Jewish literature in translation. The introduction would be valuable as an independent work—it is the finest essay on the Yiddish theater currently available in English.” — Ruth R. Wisse, author of The Modern Jewish Canon: A Journey through Language and Culture
“This book presents these plays to English-speaking audiences for the first time. Such a translation is well overdue. The translators place the development of Yiddish theater within the context of the Enlightenment from which it emerged and demonstrate the relationship between the changing mores of Jewish society and the theater that reflected these changes.” — Jeffrey Veidlinger, author of The Moscow State Yiddish Theater: Jewish Culture on the Soviet Stage
Joel Berkowitz is Associate Professor of Modern Jewish Studies at the University at Albany, State University of New York. He is the author of Shakespeare on the American Yiddish Stage and the editor of Yiddish Theatre: New Approaches. Jeremy Dauber is Atran Assistant Professor of Yiddish at Columbia University. He is the author of Antonio’s Devils: Writers of the Jewish Enlightenment and the Birth of Modern Hebrew and Yiddish Literature.
Table of Contents
1. Silliness and Sanctimony Aaron Halle Wolfssohn
2. Serkele, or, In Mourning for a Brother Shloyme Ettinger