Page 84 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 49

Basic HTML Version

76
JEWISH BOOK ANNUAL
him), and docum en ta tion .” (From biographical essay by his son
Emanuel Bin Gorion. p. xxv.) Above all, Bin Gorion wanted
to make a Jewish contribution to world literature . Born in 1865
in Medzhibozh in southwest Ukraine, a seat o f Hasidism, Bin
Gorion (Berdyczewski) heard stories from his mo ther at home,
was a studen t o f the Talmud and a son o f a hasidic rabbi. He
began collecting stories as a young man and devoted himself
to this task th roughou t his life.
The re is an excellent introduction to the collection by folk­
lorist Dan Ben-Amos who discusses the history o f Jewish n a r­
rative tradition and the specific goals o f Bin Gorion’s works.
Representing the diversity o f Jewish tradition, the book contains
stories that have been told for thousands o f years and makes
connections between them. Emanuel Bin Gorion has edited the
volumes and added an extensive bibliography and reference
sources at the end o f the series. As magnificent as this work
is, it went ou t o f p rin t in 1986. It has been republished in two
versions, both one-volume editions, as follows:
1.
M imekor Yisrael: Classical Jew ish Folktales
, Abridged and An­
notated Edition. Bloomington, IN: Ind iana University Press,
1990. xlvi, 512 p.
In this volume, Dan Ben-Amos has added extensive scholarly
headnotes to each tale. However, the number o f tales has been
reduced and variants and duplicate versions o f many tales have
been eliminated in this one-volume edition. T h e re are also in­
cluded annotations about the personalities and events in the
stories, additional upda ted in troductory commentary and bib­
liography.
2.
M imekor Yisrael: Classical Jew ish Folktales
was also published
by Ind iana University Press in 1990, again with an introduction
and headnotes, by Dan Ben-Amos. This one-volume paperback
o f 288 pages contains 113 o f the most popu lar stories from
the original volumes, but without scholarly commentary. This
edition is geared to the general reader, whereas the abridged
and anno tated version is meant for the students o f folklore and
history.
These books are such a valuable resource that they should
not be allowed to go ou t o f p rin t again.