Page 116 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 25

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theater repertories, constitute a group of vast source materials for
the student of the Yiddish theater.
In its early stages the Yiddish theater was connected with
“badkhones”—popular literature consisting of poems recited
or sung at various family celebrations or at other public
occasions. Besides such figures as Elyokum Zunser and Avrom
Goldfaden who occupy a place of their own in Yiddish litera-
ture, there is a host of lesser figures, some listed or mentioned
by literary historians, others quite unknown. The authors
in this category in the YIVO library include Berl Broder,
Volf Zbarzer (Ehrenkrants), Sh. Bernshteyn, M. Shlifershteyn,
Beyrekh Shafir, Leon Shpatzer and many others. The relation-
ship between these popular lyrics and Yiddish poetry is a fact
acknowledged by literary historians. An illustration is to be found
in a rare little pamphlet owned by the YIVO library, issued in
Vilna, 1896, under the title
D i Yidishe Trer.
It contains a eulogy
on the death of Rabbi Isaac Elhanan Spektor. Its author, Abraham
Reyzen, was influenced in the early stage of his development,
by the verse of Elyokum Zunser and Hilel Klebanov.14
In characterizing the YIVO resources in the field of Yiddish
literature, mention should be made of the related areas of folk-
lore and Jewish music. Yiddish folklore became a subject of
scholarly interest late in the 19th century. In the first decade of
the 20th century the Historical Ethnographical Society and the
Society for Jewish Folk Music were founded in St. Petersburg.
Whatever has been accomplished by scholars and devotees since
that time is fairly well covered by the YIVO collection of folk-
lore and music.
Still another branch of popular literature deserves mention,
namely, the Hasidic tales and legends. The YIVO library has a
large collection of materials which Simon Dubnow classified as
“Hasidic legends” and “Hasidic teachings.”15 Some of the editions
are quite early, rare and close to the original sources. The later
editions are in most cases products of cheap presses of Poland,
Galicia, and Rumania, collected from various sources, containing
“unauthorized” additions. Although published without respon-
sible editorial supervision, they are still highly significant for
social and psychological research. Besides tales and sayings, there
are histories of Hasidic dynasties, biographical dictionaries and
encyclopedias of ethical precepts. All these varieties are included
in the YIVO collections, together with early scholarship on the
14Z. Reyzen,
Leksikon fun der Y id isher L i tera tu r ,
v. 4 (Vilna, 1928), p. 350.
Simon Dubnov,
Geshikhte fun Hasid ism
, v. 3 (Buenos Aires, 1958), p. 72 ff.