Introduction to Old Yiddish Literature

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The field of early Yiddish studies has so far only been accessible to specialist scholars. This remarkable study opens up to a more general audience the cultural richness of that broad and deep corpus of literature that stretches from its beginnings in the Middle Ages to the mid-eighteenth century. The literature spans a wide spectrum of genres, from love lyric to kabbalistic treatises, and from travelogue to Renaissance adventure epic. The diverse world of Ashkenazic Jewry comes alive in this survey of its literature.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780199276332
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 8/11/2005
  • Pages: 488
  • Product dimensions: 9.30 (w) x 6.20 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Jean Baumgarten is Directeur de Recherche (CNRS), Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Centre des Hautes Etudes Juives, Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales. Jerold C. Frakes is Professor of Comparative Literature, University of Southern California.

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Table of Contents

1 The invention of a language : Yiddish among the European vernaculars 1
2 The emergence of Yiddish literature and the crisis in Jewish society 26
3 The printing, distribution, and audience of Yiddish books 38
4 Bilingualism and the development of old Yiddish literature 72
5 Yiddish Bibles 82
6 Medieval epic and romance in Yiddish 128
7 Elia Levita and the Romanzo Cavalleresco 163
8 Books of morality and conduct 207
Ethico-mystical treatises in Yiddish 237
The books of custom and conduct : Minhogim sforim 248
9 Prayer in the vernacular 260
Tkhinous 'prayers of supplication' 274
Yiddish and bilingual rites of daily prayer (sidurim) and holiday prayers (makhzourim) 285
10 Yiddish narrative 296
11 Terrestrial suffering in a topsy-turvy world 328
Megilas Vints : an historical poem on the pogrom in Frankfurt am main in 1616 328
Yiddish medical texts (fourteenth-eighteenth centuries) 341
Purim-shpil and the Jewish carnivalesque tradition 359
Conclusion : from the old to the new 386
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