Page 33 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 24

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SlLBERSCHLAG — AMERICAN CLASSICS IN HEBREW 25
emerging literature which was destined to fulfill a focal function
in the world. T h e translations from American lite ra tu re in ­
creased in number and in quality toward the end of the n ine­
teenth century and, in our own day, they have become sources
for new techniques and far-reaching insights in Hebrew liter­
ature. Even the basic documents of American democracy—the
Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United
States—were translated as early as 1891. Of the older American
authors Washington Irving, James Fenimore Cooper and H a rrie t
Beecher Stowe found capable translators. Cooper’s
T h e Last of
the Mohicans
was translated at the end of the nineteenth century
b u t
T he Pathfinder
and
The Pioneers
were translated only in
the twenties of this century. Irving’s “R ip van W inkle” was
translated in 1928 while Stowe’s
Uncle T om ’s Cabin
reached
four editions in Hebrew by 1903. T he Hebrew title
Ohel Tom
bore connotations and allusions which were un in tended in the
American title. T h e obvious reference to Jacob who is described
in Genesis 25:27 as
Tom
(simple or innocent) and
Yosheb
Ohalim
(dwelling in tents) must have immediately created the
illusion tha t the hero of the novel is a patriarchal type of biblical
simplicity. Even the later translation of
Uncle T om ’s Cabin
by
Asher Barash (Jerusalem, 1926) retained some elements of the
older title:
Ohel ha-Dod Tom .
None of the translators used for
“cabin” the rabbinic equivalent
Zerif
which is current in modern
Hebrew.
Jews were always capable of laughing at their own misfortunes.
Since they fathered an enviable literature of wit and mordant
humor, they could not bypass a Mark Twain. His major works,
T he Adventures of Tom Sawyer
and
The Adventures of Huckle­
berry Finn,
were translated several times by several hands. T he
translation of
T he Prince and the Pauper
by Judah Grazovsky
was published in Warsaw in 1898. Two other translations of the
historical novel by A. D. Markson and A. L. Jacobowitz appeared
in the twenties.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, who was regarded as a distin­
guished poet in the nineteenth century, found a congenial trans­
lator in Saul Tschernichowsky. T h e Hebrew poet no t only
equaled bu t exceeded the range of interests, the epic gifts, the
scope and originality of the American poet. Since Hebrew writers
in general and Tschernichowsky in particu lar did no t translate
for money, their translations tended to be superior to the com­
mercial products of profit-hungry publishers all over the world.
T he Song of Hiawatha
especially, and
Evangeline
to a certain
extent, had a salutary influence on Hebrew letters. T h e Hebrew
version of
T he Song of Hiawatha
affected the meter and rhythm
of Lisitzky’s Ind ian epic
Medurot Doakot
(Burning Campfires).