Page 21 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 39

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MEHLMAN / ANTIQUE HEBREW BOOKS
15
lost. Rare, too, are many periodicals, even late ones, such as
Ha-Emet
(Vienna, 1877),
Ha-Levanon
(Jerusalem, 1863-64), or
Yehudah Vi-Yrushalayim
(Jerusalem, 1877-78). Such items suffered
from much use as well as from neglect at the hands o f scholars.
YIDDISH WRITINGS
Much use by readers, as well as disdain on the pa rt o f the
learned, account for the loss o f folk literature written in Yiddish.
T he “bikhlekh” were neither hono red no r preserved. Rhymed
and unrhym ed tales o f the 16th-17th centuries are as ra re as
importan t incunabula, and sometimes even more so. Not a single
complete copy o f the first edition o f the story
Beriah Ve-Zimrah
(Venice, 1597) is known. Stories which were translated and
adapted into Yiddish from o ther languages, such as the King
A rthu r Tales, th
eBove-Bukh
a n d
Eulenspiegel,
were frowned upon
by influential rabbis. They disappeared almost completely, p a r ­
ticularly the ir first edition. Even in the case o f an acceptable story
collection like the
Maaseh Bukh,
which is based on Jewish sources,
only its first edition (Basle, 1662) has been preserved in a few
copies. O the r original fiction works from the 18th century as well,
are difficult to obtain.
Occasional Yiddish poems, which were published in the 17th-
18th centuries as broadsides or brochures and which dealt with
edicts and persecutions and with joyous and sad events — were
completely lost or have come down in but few copies.4 Yiddish
ethical works, such as
the Brontshpigl
or
Kokhva de’Shavit,
are ra re
in all editions.
Popular medical books as well, like
Kunstbikhel un Weiborhilf
(Amsterdam, 1718), o r
Be’er Mayim Khayim
by Issachar Teller
(Prague, after 1657) have been preserved in but few copies. What
is true about Yiddish works applies as well to books written in
o ther folk languages, especially Ladino.
Parodies and o th e r frivolous works were not preserved because
o f extensive use and because they were suppressed. Not only did
the early parodies disappear — like
Massekhet Purim
(Pesaro,
4 M. Steinschneider,
Catalogus Librorum Hebraeorum
I, 3625-3707.