Page 74 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 27

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68
J
e w i s h
B
o o k
A
n n u a l
and Hebrew stage. It would be strange if Yiddish writers livi
and writing in an environment where the folklore about e
spirits,
dybbukim, gilgulim
and
letzim
was rife did not incl
it in their work. They all drew from the same sources.
Much earlier than Peretz and Sholem Aleichem and Mend
the story-telling hasidic rabbi, Nachman Bratzlaver, who die
quarter century before Mendele was born, had
shedim
and e
spirits,
“nishgutte”
in his stories. Bashevis is using genuine J
ish themes.
I wonder how much of Bashevis’s Jewish mind, Jewish exp
ence and Jewish vernacular in which his work is written
really got through into English translation. I am a translator
self, and I know what great things translation has done and
do. Without translation most of us would not know Dostoev
or Tolstoy, Flaubert or Balzac, Goethe or Thomas Mann.
translation is not the same as the actual words used by the auth
I remember how Stefan Zweig writhed when he read a translat
of his work. They were not his words, he said, but the wo
of the translator. Even a literal translation is made up of differ
sounds. And a way of life cannot completely be transferred.
Singer and Fellow-Yiddish Writ
Some of Bashevis’s fellow-Yiddish writers in America compl
that since he has had his big success in the English reading bo
market he has come to consider himself as the one and only, a
dismisses all others. “ He hasn’ t a good word for anyone.” Succ
is a heady drink. Somerset Maugham who was a very success
author, said “Success often bears within itself the seed of destr
tion. He (the author) is made much of. He must be almost sup
human if he is not captivated by the notice taken of him.
success has changed him in the eyes of his old associates and t
are no longer at home with him. They may look upon him w
envy or with admiration, but no longer as one of themselve
It pleased me therefore to receive recently from Yitzchok Per
his book of his experiences during the war in the Soviet Uni
translated into English,
The Adventures of One Yitzchok,
“zestf
zany” galgenhumour, with Bashevis’s Introduction. “His dre
ful experiences did not temper Perlov’s humor,” Bashevis writ
“but made it even sharper. Perlov does not cry, nor does he b
his breast. Perlov describes with the light spirit of those who fi
comedy in every human endeavor.” So, too, Bashevis wrote
Introduction for A. M. Fuchs's book of short stories,
The Ni
and the Day.
He praises Fuchs as he deserves: “ Those who und
stand will find in the book a treasure of pictures and of langua