Modern Ladino Culture

Modern Ladino Culture

Press, Belles Lettres, and Theater in the Late Ottoman Empire
Olga Borovaya
Distribution: World
Publication date: 12/05/2011
Format: Hardback 8 b&w illus.
ISBN: 978-0-253-35672-7
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Finalist, 2012 National Jewish Book Awards, Sephardic Culture

Olga Borovaya explores the emergence and expansion of print culture in Ladino (Judeo-Spanish), the mother tongue of the Sephardic Jews of the Ottoman Empire, in the second half of the 19th and early 20th centuries. She provides the first comprehensive study of the three major forms of Ladino literary production—the press, belles lettres, and theater—as a single cultural phenomenon. The product of meticulous research and innovative methodology, Modern Ladino Culture offers a new perspective on the history of the Ladino press, a novel approach to the study of belles lettres in Ladino and their relationship to their European sources, and a fine-grained critique of Sephardic plays as venues for moral education and politicization.

Author Bio

Olga Borovaya is a visiting scholar at Stanford University. She is author of Modernization of a Culture (in Russian).


“This groundbreaking, eye-opening study demonstrates that literary and cultural analytical tools are key to answering historical questions about Ladino texts. . . . Borovaya's study underscores the richness of Ladino literature as a source for the history of Ottoman Sephardim and their diasporic offshoots.”
 — Aviva Ben-Ur, University of Massachusetts

“A superb literary-historical study of Ladino literature . . . that goes very far in fleshing out, correcting, and innovatively interpreting the history and substance of Ladino literary production.”
 — Sarah Abrevaya Stein, author of Making Jews Modern (IUP, 2003)

“Olga Borovaya's brilliant path-breaking book transforms our understanding of modern secular Ladino cultural production at its apogee. . . .This extraordinary work, the result of prodigious research and analysis, will become the ultimate book of reference for future scholarship on the subject.”
 — Aron Rodrigue, Stanford University

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Table of Contents

Note on Translation, Transcription, Proper Names, and Dates

Part 1. The Press
The Emergence of modern Culture Production in Ladino: The Sephardi Press
The Press in Salonica: a Case Study

Part 2. Belles Lettres
The Serialized Novel as Rewriting
Ladino Fiction: Case Studies

Part 3. Theater
Sephardi Theater: Project and Practice
Ladino Drama: Case Studies


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