||A comedy in three acts and fourteen tableaux by Itzik Manger(1901–1969), a Yiddish poet, dramatist, and novelist. Manger, who was born in Czernowitz, learned Yiddish folklore and poetry from his father. His first poem was published in 1921 in the Rumanian Yiddish journal Kultur and his first book of poems was Shtern Oyfn Dakh ("Stars on the Roof," 1929). In this volume, he combined the simplicity of folksongs and of the Yiddish bards with sophisticated stanzaic structures and technical skill. The poems express delight in the entire universe, and find beauty and value even in suffering and sorrow.
Four years later he published more mature poems in Lamtern in Vint ("Lantern in the Wind," 1933). In his Khumesh Lider ("Pentateuch Songs," 1935), patriarchal figures are portrayed as contemporary Jews, with the thoughts, feelings, and failings of Jews living in the villages of Eastern Europe. Manger's Megile-Lider ("Scroll Songs," 1936) recreated the tradition of the Purim play in the form of dramatic lyrics. To the original story of the Book of Esther, he added new incidents and characters, such as the rivalry between the tailor's apprentice Fastrigosse and King Ahasuerus for the love of Queen Esther. These ironic and sentimental lyrics were enthusiastically received when staged as a musical in Israel in 1967 and the next year in English in the United States (music by Dov Seltzer).
Manger also adapted A. Goldfaden's plays for a post-Goldfaden generation; most successfully Di Kishufmakherin ("The Witch") and Drey Hotzmakhs (1936, 1937). He paid tribute to Goldfaden, Eliakum Zunser, Berl Broder, and other predecessors in his volume Noente Geshtalten (1938, 1961). His most piquant tale is the imaginative novel, Dos Bukh fun Gan-Eydn (1939; English tr. by L. Wolf, The Book of Paradise, 1965). He depicts Shemuel-Abba, formerly an angel and now a newborn babe who relates his prenatal adventures in Paradise. The story is a double-edged satire on the Eden that people imagine and on the crass realities of shtetl life and foibles.
Soon after the appearance of this work, Manger had to flee the Nazis. He escaped to London where he lived until 1951, when he moved first to New York, and, in 1967, to Israel. Manger's poems were translated into Hebrew, the principal European languages (in English in S. Betsky, Onions and Cucumbers and Plums (1958) and in J. Leftwich's The Golden Peacock (1961)), and were included in the UNESCO anthology of world poetry in 1961. His short story The Adventures of Hirschel Summerwind is in I. Howe and E. Greenberg, Treasury of Yiddish Stories (1965), 438–46.