The Meaning of Yiddish

Overview

With a rare combination of erudition and insight, the author investigates the major aspects of Yiddish language and culture, showing where Yiddish came from and what it has to offer, even as it ceases to be a "living" language.

Reviews

"Harshav's book is a first-class study of Yiddish as both language and culture, rich with linguistic detail and historical insight, expert in its literary analysis and ...

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Overview

With a rare combination of erudition and insight, the author investigates the major aspects of Yiddish language and culture, showing where Yiddish came from and what it has to offer, even as it ceases to be a "living" language.

Reviews

"Harshav's book is a first-class study of Yiddish as both language and culture, rich with linguistic detail and historical insight, expert in its literary analysis and judgments. I recommend it enthusiastically."

—Irving Howe,

Graduate School and University Center of the City University of New York

"The Meaning of Yiddish is the most important contribution to the study of Yiddish language and literature in recent times."

—Chana Kronfeld,

University of California, Berkeley

"The Meaning of Yiddish is explicitly intended for 'readers who bring to it no previous knowledge, only curiosity.' . . . 'My central question,' Harshav writes in the preface, 'is: Yiddish: what was it? What kind of world was it? How can we read the intersections of meaning its texts seem to provide? How did it lead in and out of Jewish history, moving between the internal Jewish world and the cultures of Christian Europe and America?' I know of no other single book in any language which could respond to these questions by conveying to the uninitiated . . . such a richly textured profile of the nature and dynamics of both the Yiddish language and its literature. It is a remarkable feat of high popularization, written with great flair and without a hint of pedantry, its examples always to the point and often memorable in themselves. . . . The book should be read by all who are interested in language, in literature, and in the modern Jewish experience."

Times Literary Supplement

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"I know of no single book in any language which [conveys] such a richly textured profile of the nature and dynamics of both the Yiddish language and its literature. It is a remarkable feat of high popularization, written with great flair and without a hint of pedantry. . . . The book should be read by all who are interested in language."—Times Literary Supplement
From The Critics
In The Meaning Of Yiddish, Benjamin Harshav (Jacob and Hilda Blaustein Professor of Hebrew and Comparative Literature at Yale University) has written an impressive work of scholar erudition and insight into the major aspects of the Yiddish language and culture. Professor Harshav reveals where Yiddsh came from and what it has to offer contemporary Jewish culture, even as it is starting to die out with the passing of the generations of ghettoized Eastern Europe Jewry. The Meaning Of Yiddish is an outstanding recommendation for any personal, Temple, or academic Yiddish studies collection.
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Product Details

Meet the Author

Benjamin Harshav is Jacob and Hilda Blaustein Professor of Hebrew and Comparative Literature at Yale University. Among his many books is Language in Time of Revolution (Stanford paperback, 1999).

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Table of Contents

Preface
Pt. 1 The Yiddish Language
1 Language and History 3
2 The Nature of Yiddish 27
3 Some Sociological Aspects 74
4 The Semiotics of Yiddish Communication 89
Pt. 2 Literature in History: Ideology and Poetics
5 The Modern Jewish Revolution 119
6 The Historical Perspective of Modern Yiddish Literature 139
7 Yiddish Poetry in America 161
8 Introspectivism: A Modernist Poetics 175
9 The End of a Language 187
Index 195
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