Page 129 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 45

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LOUIS FRIDHANDLER
Index to English Translations of the
Works of Sholom Aleichem
S
h o l o m
A
l e ic h e m
(1859-1916) was eager for his voice to be
heard in other languages, especially Russian and English, as well
as his beloved Yiddish.
A
major Russian edition was published in
1910, and some English translations (now archaic) were issued a
little later. He was, however, introduced to English readers much
earlier in the domain of scholarship, although in a somewhat
nominal manner, when his fame was still rather modest, when the
full force of his impact was yet to be appreciated.
In 1898 Leo Wiener wrote a major critical study of Yiddish lit­
erature in English. It was, in fact, the first such study crafted in
any
language. Wiener offered probably the first English transla­
tion of Sholom Aleichem’s writing, a fragment of his 1888 novel
STEMPENYU.1
Wiener (at least for a brief time) was obviously deeply drawn to
productively focus his scholarly talents and energies on Yiddish
letters despite assimilationist pressures and tendencies in both
personal and professional life. He travelled from Harvard Uni­
versity (where he was then Instructor of Slavic languages) to
Europe in 1898 to interview major Yiddish authors. While in
Kiev he conferred at length with Sholom Aleichem.2
Despite this direct, face-to-face contact in 1898, Wiener’s bibli­
ography omits mention of Tevye (now globally familiar in many
languages), although Sholom Aleichem was by then well
embarked on developing that vibrant character. The first Tevye
piece, TEVYE DER MILKhlKER3, written in late 1894, was pub­
1 Wiener, Leo;
The History of Yiddish Literature in the Nineteenth Century,
2nd Edi­
tion, New York: Hermon Press, 1972.
2
Ibid.,
p. xxxi.
3 There is no translation available of the 1895 edition o f the first Tevye piece,
TEVYE DER MILKHIKER. All English translations are from the 1903 revi­
sion titled DOS GROYSE GEVINS.