Description

Roughly one third of Old Yiddish literature is based on traceable European literary sources, mainly German. Given how close Old Yiddish is to Early New High German, some of these Old Yiddish texts with European sources feel like mere transcriptions, others more like legitimate translations and yet others more like free adaptations. From the Yiddish reader's perspective, the texts become accessible through transcription into Hebrew characters and more accessible the more that the translator engages the text as representative Jewish reader. A large proportion of these Yiddish books with German sources are prose novels–a genre newly popular with German readers of the time. A good example is the Schildbürgerbuch, the classic account of goings-on in a fictitious city of fools, first published as the Lalebuch in Strasbourg in 1597, and, with minor revisions, as the Schildbürgerbuch in Frankfurt in 1598. The language and mood of the Schildbürgerbuch were brought up to date in a rewritten edition, attributed to one "Pomponius Filtzhut," which made its appearance around 1698. This Filtzhut version inspired a literal rendering into Yiddish, which appeared in Amsterdam circa 1700. A second Yiddish translation, more spirited and more influential, was published in 1727, again in Amsterdam. These 18th-century Yiddish versions of the Schildbürgerbuch constitute the earliest Jewish literary antecedents for the wise men of Chelm, an invented tradition dating from the end of the 19th century. At around the same time (1890), this second Yiddish edition of the Schildbürgerbuch was incurring the disapproval of the scholar of German literature, Ernst Jeep, who dismisses the fondness for rhyme exhibited throughout the translation as nothing short of a rhyming mania ("Reimwut"). Against the background of the German editions of 1598 and ca.1698 and the first Yiddish edition of ca. 1700, the presentation will look at the rhyming material that is new to this alleged worst case of an apparent proclivity of late early modern Yiddish literary taste. The talk will ask whether this versification deserves a diagnosis quite as pathological-sounding as “Reimwut” and whether it is indeed the great flaw of the Yiddish version or one of its merits. In addition, we will take this as a point of departure from which at least to pose the bigger question of just how pervasive and significant the rhyming couplet is in Old Yiddish literature, and for how long this remains true. Finally, we will consider how this compares to German literature of the period, wondering how to account for any differences between the two literatures in terms of apparent consumer preference for rhymed or unrhymed prose.

This presentation is for the following text(s):

  • Wund erseltsame abendtheurliche und recht lächerliche Geschichte und Thaten der Welt bekannten Schild-Bürger in Misnopotamia, hinter Utopia gelegen (Wonderful, adventuresome and highly comical stories and deeds of the world-famous people of Schildburg in Mesopotamia beyond Utopia, 17th century)
  • Vunder zeltsame kurtsveilige lustige geshikhte un daten der velt bekanten shild burger (Wonderful, strange, entertaining and amusing stories and deeds of the world-famous people of Schildburg, ca. 1700)
  • Vunder seltsame kurtsveylige unt rekht lekherlikhe geshikhte unt daten der velt bekanten shild burger (Wonderful, strange, entertaining and highly comical stories and deeds of the world-famous people of Schildburg, 1727), "How a man of Schildburg brought his son to school, and what happened there"

Click here to view the video.

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Event Website

http://wesscholar.wesleyan.edu/emw/emw2009/

Comments

Audio and video of the workshop are available with each presentation and on iTunesU

Start Date

25-8-2009 11:00 AM

Location

Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Studies, Harvard University

 
Aug 25th, 11:00 AM

Early Modern Yiddish Readers: Immoderately Addicted to Rhyme?

Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Studies, Harvard University

Roughly one third of Old Yiddish literature is based on traceable European literary sources, mainly German. Given how close Old Yiddish is to Early New High German, some of these Old Yiddish texts with European sources feel like mere transcriptions, others more like legitimate translations and yet others more like free adaptations. From the Yiddish reader's perspective, the texts become accessible through transcription into Hebrew characters and more accessible the more that the translator engages the text as representative Jewish reader. A large proportion of these Yiddish books with German sources are prose novels–a genre newly popular with German readers of the time. A good example is the Schildbürgerbuch, the classic account of goings-on in a fictitious city of fools, first published as the Lalebuch in Strasbourg in 1597, and, with minor revisions, as the Schildbürgerbuch in Frankfurt in 1598. The language and mood of the Schildbürgerbuch were brought up to date in a rewritten edition, attributed to one "Pomponius Filtzhut," which made its appearance around 1698. This Filtzhut version inspired a literal rendering into Yiddish, which appeared in Amsterdam circa 1700. A second Yiddish translation, more spirited and more influential, was published in 1727, again in Amsterdam. These 18th-century Yiddish versions of the Schildbürgerbuch constitute the earliest Jewish literary antecedents for the wise men of Chelm, an invented tradition dating from the end of the 19th century. At around the same time (1890), this second Yiddish edition of the Schildbürgerbuch was incurring the disapproval of the scholar of German literature, Ernst Jeep, who dismisses the fondness for rhyme exhibited throughout the translation as nothing short of a rhyming mania ("Reimwut"). Against the background of the German editions of 1598 and ca.1698 and the first Yiddish edition of ca. 1700, the presentation will look at the rhyming material that is new to this alleged worst case of an apparent proclivity of late early modern Yiddish literary taste. The talk will ask whether this versification deserves a diagnosis quite as pathological-sounding as “Reimwut” and whether it is indeed the great flaw of the Yiddish version or one of its merits. In addition, we will take this as a point of departure from which at least to pose the bigger question of just how pervasive and significant the rhyming couplet is in Old Yiddish literature, and for how long this remains true. Finally, we will consider how this compares to German literature of the period, wondering how to account for any differences between the two literatures in terms of apparent consumer preference for rhymed or unrhymed prose.

This presentation is for the following text(s):

  • Wund erseltsame abendtheurliche und recht lächerliche Geschichte und Thaten der Welt bekannten Schild-Bürger in Misnopotamia, hinter Utopia gelegen (Wonderful, adventuresome and highly comical stories and deeds of the world-famous people of Schildburg in Mesopotamia beyond Utopia, 17th century)
  • Vunder zeltsame kurtsveilige lustige geshikhte un daten der velt bekanten shild burger (Wonderful, strange, entertaining and amusing stories and deeds of the world-famous people of Schildburg, ca. 1700)
  • Vunder seltsame kurtsveylige unt rekht lekherlikhe geshikhte unt daten der velt bekanten shild burger (Wonderful, strange, entertaining and highly comical stories and deeds of the world-famous people of Schildburg, 1727), "How a man of Schildburg brought his son to school, and what happened there"

Click here to view the video.

https://fordham.bepress.com/emw/emw2009/emw2009/12