Thom Dunn's Reviews > From Shtetl To Suburbia: The Family In Jewish Literary Imagination

From Shtetl To Suburbia by Sol Gittleman
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Mar 19, 12

bookshelves: america-1-american, zeitgeist, anthropology, europe, history, jewish-world, manners, new-york, a-own-hardcover, poland, religion, russia, 2012
Recommended for: GoodReads members
Read from February 14 to 28, 2012, read count: 1

NOT A REVIEW
Handsome little hardcover from Beacon Press. Price tag cut. copyright, 1978. Notice: "
beacon Press Books are published under the auspices of the Unitarian-Universalist Association.

REVIEW

First rate. There were, and will only ever be, two generations of Yiddish literature. Just two. Exactly two. Who knew ?
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Comments (showing 1-5 of 5) (5 new)

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message 1: by Valerie (new)

Valerie This would be interesting, if incomplete. Not all Jewish migration was of Ashkenazi, nor were all Ashkenazi always ghettoized in their complex histories. For example, there was a fairly flourishing Jewish scholarly culture in Islamic areas of Eurasia and North Africa--which often had serious problems after those areas were conquered by Christian groups. One element in movement overseas by Sephardim, for example, was flight from the Inquisition.

Concepts of family in Jewish traditions would probably have been as complex as the various origin streams would imply. Escapees would have lost parts, and changed others, as they tried to integrate into an equally complex, but often very different, 'suburban' mileu. Anything short of an encyclopaedia would be hard-pressed to deal with the variations.


Thom Dunn Valerie wrote: "This would be interesting, if incomplete. Not all Jewish migration was of Ashkenazi, nor were all Ashkenazi always ghettoized in their complex histories. For example, there was a fairly flourishi..."

Yiddish communities constituted a subset of Jewish communities. The Sephardim spoke (and wrote ?) Ladino and hence do not enter into a discussion of Yiddish writing.
Sol Gittleman approached his topic from a literary, not anthropological, perspective.


message 3: by Valerie (new)

Valerie The problem with a literary perspective is that it doesn't necessarily take into account the much longer oral tradition.

I remember a commenter saying that in the households she frequented as a child, as many as five languages were used on a daily basis--but that when the elders didn't want the children to understand, they would speak in Hungarian.

Yiddish became a literary language for a short period of time because it was such a secret language in a dissonant society. But it was certainly a source of oral folklore for centuries.


Thom Dunn Valerie wrote: "The problem with a literary perspective is that it doesn't necessarily take into account the much longer oral tradition.

I remember a commenter saying that in the households she frequented as a ch..."


Something of this is memorialized in Sholem Aleichem's Tevye stories, The Fools of Chelm, and the like. BTW: Did you know that the Biblical story of Samson appears to be oral-formulaic ?


message 5: by Valerie (new)

Valerie No, I hadn't heard that, but I'm not surprised. The stories we're taught as 'biblical' (especially from Genesis and Exodus) seem to have been an attempt to liven up very dry genaeologies, dietary laws, etc.

Other cultures did more or less the same thing after the invention of writing. There are very few courses in Sumerian literature, because what was found at Tel Erech was mostly lists of temple tributes, codes of law, etc. The Enuma Elish and the Epic of Gilgamesh are taught: but usually in translation.


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