The Emergence of Early Yiddish Literature

The Emergence of Early Yiddish Literature

Cultural Translation in Ashkenaz
Jerold C. Frakes
Distribution: Global
Publication date: 06/06/2017
ISBN: 978-0-253-02568-5
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While much early Yiddish literature belonged to pious genres, quasi-secular genres—epic, drama, and lyric—also developed. Jerold Frakes contends that the historical context of the emergence of Yiddish literature is an essential factor in any understanding of its cultural relevance in a time and place where Jewish life was defined by expulsions, massacres, and discriminatory legislation that profoundly altered European Judaism and shook the very foundations of traditional Jewish society.

Author Bio

Jerold C. Frakes is SUNY Distinguished Professor of English at the University at Buffalo.


“Jerold Frakes raises particularly poignant questions on how the work of Christians influenced Jewish society.”
 — Edward Fram, author of My Dear Daughter: Rabbi Benjamin Slonik and the Education of Jewish Women in Sixteenth-Cen

“Jerold Frakes offers an excellent presentation of the Jewish vernacular as a multi-faceted, multivalent cultural phenomenon that shows the slow religious evolution and socio-cultural turn from the Middle Ages to the Early Modern period.”
 — Jean Baumgarten, author of Introduction to Old Yiddish Literature

“This study of Yiddish texts dating from 1100 to 1750 is the definitive work in the field. Frakes is at home in the classics, medieval studies, German studies, comparative religion, and Hebrew and Yiddish, and he brings to this historical study of many of the same texts the impeccable scholarship characteristic of his previous works.”
 — Choice

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Table of Contents

1. Introduction
2. "Whither am I to Go?": Old Yiddish Love Song in a European Context
3. (Non-)Intersecting Parallel Lives: Pasquino in Rome and on the Rialto
4. Purimplay as Political Action in Diasporic Europe and/as Ancient Persia
5. Queen Vashti and Political Revolution: Gender Politics in a Topsy-Turvy World
6. The Political Liminality of Mordecai in Early Ashkenaz
7. Feudal Bridal-Quest Turned on its Jewish Head
8. The Other of Another Other: Yiddish Epic’s Discarded Muslim Enemy
9. Conclusion
Appendix: Elia Levita’s Short Poems (English translation)