Podcast: Ruth Wisse on the Stories Jews Tell

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By reading literature, one can experience what it’s like to be, say, a king, or a soldier, or a mother, or a stranger, or a tyrant, or for that matter a slave, not to mention far more.

What of modern Jewish literature? How did its storytellers speak not only to individual readers, but also to a nation—a nation which until recently was dispersed through many lands and spoke to itself in many languages? How did fiction become one of the primary ways that modern Jewish culture was created and conveyed? And how have the greatest Jewish writers confronted the Jewish people’s enduring dilemmas?

Those are some of the questions that Ruth Wisse, professor emerita at Harvard, Mosaic columnist, and Senior Distinguished Fellow at the Tikvah Fund, asks of herself and her students in her courses on Jewish literature. And they animate a new podcast series she will launch in the coming weeks, The Stories Jews Tell. In this podcast, in conversation with Mosaic Editor Jonathan Silver, she orients listeners to the questions of Jewish literature.

Musical selections in this podcast are drawn from the Quintet for Clarinet and Strings, op. 31a, composed by Paul Ben-Haim and performed by the ARC Ensemble.

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