Monday, April 7, 2014

At Once Universal and Very Particular


Well, Tevye the Milkman and the Rail Road Stories are classics, and rightfully so.  Not only are Sholem Aleichem's stories first rate, world class literature, something that someone from any culture can read in translation and understand, but this work also captures a particular time and place for Yiddish speaking Jews.

The fact that Tevye and the other stories are secular tales written in Yiddish already signals that great changes occurred in the ranks of eastern European Jews.  At the turn of the twentieth century they had a secular literature in a language  used primarily at home.  In Teyve, Sholom Aleichem uses the Jewish vernacular as a fitting vehicle to show the stresses, strains and changes occurring in Yiddish speaking communities during his time.

As such, the stories strike a rare note in the history of literature; his work is at once universal, and very particular.


No comments:

Post a Comment