Page 140 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 44

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JEWISH BOOK ANNUAL
matters!”21 This is the voice of the impassioned Lover of Zion
Sholem Rabinovitsh in 1884.
The generation of subject matter is, of course, the feuilleton­
ist’s first problem. How does the author keep his series going in
the fifth letter? He does so by, in effect, dropping Leybele, who
having been converted to the T ru th can — and does — prove
only tedious in his remaining letter, the eighth. At leisure in the
oylem-hatoye,
Leybele learns from new acquaintances with the help
of an interpreter. For most of the fifth letter, Leybele narrates the
life story of Marcus Seligman. This is a cautionary tale on the
theme of the evils of materialism and social climbing. Motl
Zeligman becomes Mortkhe Zeligman who becomes Marcus
Seligman and dreams of becoming Mark Vladimirovitsh Zelig-
manov. Someone liked the story enough to get the Hebrew Pub­
lishing Company of New York to publish it as a separate (unda­
ted) work by Sholem-Aleykhem entitled “Der ufgekumener gvir”
(The Parvenu Rich Man). It is not listed in any Sholem-Aleykhem
bibliography and I do not know whether it was printed with the
author’s permission.
Velvele in the sixth letter introduces us to the misanthropic
Berele, whose life story we learn. Sholem-Aleykhem’s much­
loved lottery theme is beautifully treated in the account of
Berele’s parents, Zusye and Zisl.22 Velvele-Rabinovitsh’s narra­
tive momentarily becomes dialog and the following play-in-little
results:
— When does our ticket come up, Zusye? — Asks Zisl.
— The day after tomorrow, Zisl. — Answers Zusye.
— We ought to win at least a hundred!
— What are you talking about, Zisl?
— Well, two hundred.
— Rather than that, better nothing!
— Alright, six hundred, Zusye?
— I’m not interested, Zisl!
— Well, a thousand, Zusye?
— I’m not interested, not interested!
— Well, Zusye darling, two thousand . . .
— 2000? I don’t need it, I don’t want it!
— Goodness, enough, Zusye! People have big eyes. That is
21
Ale verk,
Vol. 1, pp. 116-117.
22
Ale verk,
Vol. 1, pp. 94-109.