Page 99 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 30

Basic HTML Version

c h u lm an
— I
s r a e l
s inberg
8 7
St. Petersburg (1908-1913). As editor of the section for Hebrew
and Yiddish literature, he wrote many erudite articles and edited
others. He also contributed ^ number of chapters to the collective
History of the Jewish People
(Russian, Moscow, 1914). He wrote
papers for the various scholarly journals and collections that ap­
peared in Russia in the twenties, when it was still possible to
publish independent scholarly almanacs. He had the honor and
privilege to publish the last issue of the
Evreiskaya Starina
The numerous monographs, studies, papers, essays, reviews and
articles were preparations for his
History of Jewish Literature
which appeared in Vilna, then Poland (1929-1937). The work,
subtitled “European Period,” covers Jewish creativity from the
Golden Age in Spain to the end of the Enlightenment epoch in
Eastern Europe. He planned to bring the history down to the
beginning of World War I, but the opportunity to complete his
work was not given him.
The eight volumes and the supplementary volume dealing
with the Haskalah in Russia and Poland, which was found in
his archives in the Leningrad Public Library, encompass the
entire field of Jewish writing in Europe. In this
History of Jewish
Tsinberg analyzes and evaluates the works of the
poets, philosophers, critics, storytellers, and translators who lived
in various countries. With equal critical acumen he evaluates
the poetry of Gabirol and the philosophical writings of Maimo-
nides. He is at home in Toledo, Venice, Frankfort, Berlin, War­
saw, Vilno and Odessa. He does not neglect any one, with equal
grace he evaluates the great and the lesser writers, and points
out their contribution to Jewish thought and creativity.
Tsinberg integrated Yiddish literature into a pattern of gen­
eral Jewish creativity. While some literary historians, due to self-
hatred or sheer ignorance, ignored Yiddish writing or paid it
scant attention, Tsinberg treated it in the same way that he
treated Hebrew or Aramaic writing. With the same candor and
grace that he discussed the scholarly work of Elijah Bahur Levita,
he discusses his Yiddish novels, poetry and translations from the
Bible. With the same seriousness that he talks about the great
exegetes of the Bible, he writes about the humble tellers of
Yiddish tales or translators of the prayer book.
Tsinberg paid special attention to the bonds that exist between
Yiddish literature and the earlier Hebrew and Aramaic writings.
A t the same time, he showed how the elements of storytelling
formed the foundation of Yiddish writing. Thus in all Yiddish
versions of the Jewish philosophical and homiletic literature,
stories and parables were used to introduce the material: philos­
ophy intermixed with an element of storytelling, a tradition