This course will introduce students to some of the greatest authors of the modern Yiddish literary tradition as it developed from the late 19th century onward—and will demonstrate that everything people think they know about Yiddish-speaking culture is wrong. Beginning with works by the “Three Classic Writers” Mendele Mokher-Seforim, Sholem Aleichem, and Y.L. Peretz, we will continue into the 20th century to explore poetry and fiction by authors responding to the dramatic upheavals and cataclysms of their time. The writings we will examine reflect the unique situation of Yiddish-speaking Jews, who worked in a language and culture under enormous and constant pressure. Utterly unlike literature in any other language, this collection of works is just a taste of this fantastically rich artistic tradition, whose clarity and candor provide an astonishing test case of the potential and limits of art in making sense of the world.
- Mendele Mokher-Seforim, “Shem and Japheth on a Train”
- Sholem Aleichem, “On Account of a Hat,” “The Haunted Tailor”
- Y.L. Peretz, “Bontshe the Silent,” “Three Gifts,” “The Dead Town”
- Moyshe Nadir, “The Man Who Slept Through the End of the World”
Dr. Dara Horn
Dr. Dara Horn is the award-winning author of five novels: In the Image (2002), The World to Come (2006), All Other Nights (2009), A Guide for the Perplexed (2013), and Eternal Life (2018). One of Granta magazine’s ”Best Young American Novelists,” she has twice won the National Jewish Book Award and has received numerous other honors for her books, which have been translated into twelve languages. A scholar of Yiddish and Hebrew literature with a doctorate in comparative literature from Harvard, Dr. Horn has taught these subjects at Sarah Lawrence College, Harvard University, and Yeshiva University, and has lectured on Jewish literature in over 200 universities and cultural institutions throughout North America, Israel, and Australia. Her nonfiction work has appeared in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Atlantic, Smithsonian, and Jewish Review of Books, among many other publications, and she is a columnist for Tablet. She lives with her husband and four children in New Jersey.
Kate Havard Rozansky