cover image Tevye Drymn/Rrd Strs

Tevye Drymn/Rrd Strs

Sholem Aleichem. Schocken Books Inc, $19.95 (309pp) ISBN 978-0-8052-4026-9

With his supple, intelligent translation, Halkin makes accessible the poignant short stories by the legendary Yiddish humorist Sholem Rabinovich (18591916), who wrote under the nom de plume ""Sholem Aleichem,'' a Yiddish salutation. As Halkin elucidates in his introduction, Tevye's self-mocking but deeply affecting monologues (which inspired the play and film Fiddler on the Roof satisfy on several levels: as a psychological analysis of a father's love for his daughters, despite the disappointments they bring him; as a paradigm of the tribulations and resilience of Russian Jewry and the disintegration of shtetl life at the twilight of the Czarist Empire; and as a Job-like theological debate with God. The 20 Railroad Storiesthe monologues of a traveling salesman and his fellow Jewish travelersdepict Jewish thieves and arsonists, feuding spouses, draft evaders, grieving parents and assimilationists. Like the eight Tevye tales, these unprettified stories of simple people and their harsh realities summon a bygone era, but their appeal and application are timeless. Bringing both groups of tales together for the first time in English, this first volume in Schocken's Library of Yiddish Classics series is an auspicious event. (July)