NO STAR TOO BEAUTIFUL: Yiddish Stories from 1382 to the Present

Joachim Neugroschel, Editor, Joachim Neugroschel, Translator . Norton $39.95 (880p) ISBN 978-0-393-05190-2

The six centuries of Yiddish literature surveyed here amount to a history of the Jewish people and the philosophies that have sustained them. Divided into four parts, the anthology offers biblical fables, religious mysticism, stories from the Jewish Enlightenment and finally modernist tales. Yiddish and German translator Neugroschel translated all of the pieces himself and gives a scintillating explanation of the development of Yiddish as Jews migrated from the Middle East through various parts of Europe. Early tales draw on the Torah and Talmud; the earliest piece is a somewhat salacious romp chronicling the lust Potiphar's wife feels for the enslaved Joseph, while The Mayse Book of 1602 is probably the origin of the famous story of Hillel's one-sentence response to a convert's demand to be taught the entire Torah while he stood on one foot ("Just follow the biblical verse, 'Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.' That is the basis of the entire Torah"). The Tsene-Rene, excerpted here, was the 17th-century "women's bible" written entirely in colloquial Yiddish for the benefit of (mostly female) non-Hebrew speakers. There are stories about 18th- and 19th-century Hasidic tzadiks and excerpts from Yoysef Perl's scathing 1819 satirical novel, The Revealer of Secrets, which attacked the corruption of Hasidic rabbis. The largest section by far is "Modernism"; familiar names like Sholom Aleichem, Menakhem Kipnis and Isaac Bashevis Singer are flanked by those of dozens of lesser known authors who write about Jewish life in pastoral villages and urban tenements, from the late 19th century to 2000. (Oct. 21)

Forecast:This comprehensive collection should be a library and backlist staple and is likely to be picked up for course adoption around the country.

Reviewed on: 08/26/2002
Release date: 10/01/2002
Genre: Fiction
Paperback - 710 pages - 978-0-393-32617-8
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