By Jeremy Dauber
Part of the Jewish Encounters series
The first complete biography of 1 of the main loved authors of all time: the author of Tevye the Dairyman, the gathering of reports that encouraged Fiddler at the Roof.
Novelist, playwright, journalist, essayist, and editor, Sholem Aleichem used to be one of many founding giants of recent Yiddish literature. The writer of a pantheon of characters who've been immortalized in books and performs, he supplied readers in the course of the international with a desirable window into the area of jap eu Jews as they started to confront the forces of cultural, political, and non secular modernity that tore in the course of the Russian Empire within the ultimate a long time of the 19th century.
But simply as compelling because the fictional lives of Tevye, Golde, Menakhem-Mendl, and Motl was once Sholem Aleichem’s personal existence tale. Born Sholem Rabinovich in Ukraine in 1859, he continued an impoverished youth, married into exceptional wealth, after which misplaced all of it via undesirable success and worse enterprise feel. Turning to his pen to help himself, he switched from writing in Russian and Hebrew to Yiddish, so as to create a dwelling physique of literature for the Jewish lots. He loved fabulous good fortune as either a author and a performer of his paintings all through Europe and the us, and his dying in 1916 was once front-page information around the globe; a New York Times editorial mourned the lack of “the Jewish Mark Twain.” yet his maximum status lay prior to him, because the English-speaking global started to realize his paintings in translation and to introduce his characters to an viewers that may expand past his wildest goals. In Jeremy Dauber’s amazing biography, we stumble upon a Sholem Aleichem for the ages.
(With sixteen pages of black-and-white illustrations)
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Additional info for The Worlds of Sholem Aleichem: The Remarkable Life and Afterlife of the Man Who Created Tevye
In addition, the two seem to have genuinely bonded over a mutual love of Hebrew literature and storytelling. Loyeff comes off remarkably well in Sholem’s memoir, in fact, characterized as “a rare sort, an original, a Jew like no other … an exemplar of a Jewish landowner,” farmer, and intellectual; he even, according to the memoir, had Sholem’s old talent for mimicking others and shared Sholem’s penchant for telling tall tales. It’s not impossible to suggest that Sholem saw him as a second father figure—which made Loyeff’s anger and disappointment all the more crushing.
What we do have only covers up to the year 1881, when he was twenty-one—just a year past his original estimate. He’d planned to write more. Papers found in his archive provide a long list of chapter titles, indicating plans to treat at least the following decade’s events: his dramatic marriage (in a chapter titled “The Hero Steals Away the Princess”), his early Yiddish publications, his attraction to Zionism. But he didn’t follow his outline precisely in the part of the work we have, so we simply don’t know what he would have decided about the book’s intended scope.
The Jewish Robinson Crusoe speaks volumes about Sholem’s engagement with broader cultures—especially the Russian one around him. A year earlier, at fourteen, Sholem had left the world of Jewish education, registering, with his father’s approval, in the three-year course at Pereyaslav’s Russian district school; he would study there between 1873 and 1876. Certainly his Jewishness—and that of his friend and fellow student Elye Barkhash—was a live issue there. Sholem would have stood out—for missing class every Sabbath, for leaving the room whenever the local priest taught his lesson.
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