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Bidding Information
Lot #    22394
Auction End Date    12/23/2008 12:34:30 PM (mm/dd/yyyy)
Title Information
Title (English)    Selections from the works of Mendele Mocher Sefori
Author    A.H. Friedland, ed.
City    Cleveland, Ohio
Publisher    Bureau of Jewish Education
Publication Date    1935
Collection Information
Independent Item    This listing is an independent item not part of any collection
Description Information
   viii, 27 p. 215:180 mm., light age staining. A very good copy bound as issued.
   A booklet to be used in the teaching of stories by the famous Yiddish writer, Mendele Mocher Seforim. The booklet has an introduction with information about the writer's life, including a chronology of the important events in his life. This is followed by translations into English of selections from many of his famous stories.The last few pages contain "Exercises and Notes" which a teacher could use as questions for discussion in class or for an examination ono the subject.

Mendele Moicher Sforim (December 21, 1835 (O.S.) = January 2, 1836 (N.S.) - November 25 (O.S.) = December 8 (N.S.), 1917), "Mendele the book peddler," is the pseudonym of Sholem Yankev Abramovich. He was a Jewish author and one of the founders of modern Yiddish and Hebrew literature.

Mendele was born to a poor family in Kopyl near Minsk and lost his father, Chaim Moyshe Broyde, shortly after he became a Bar Mitzvah. He studied in yeshiva in Slutsk and Vilna until he was 17; during this time he was a day-boarder under the system of Teg-Essen, barely scraping by, and often hungry.

Mendele next travelled extensively around Belarus, Ukraine and Lithuania at the mercy of an abusive beggar named Avreml Khromoy (Russian for "Avreml the Lame"; Avreml would later become the source for the title character of Fishke der Krumer, Fishke the Lame).

In 1854, Mendele settled in Kamenets-Podolskiy, where he got to know writer and poet Avrom Ber Gotlober, who helped him to learn secular culture, philosophy, literature, history, Russian and other languages.

Mendele's first article, "Letter on Education", appeared in 1857 in the first Hebrew newspaper, Hamagid; his mentor Gotlober submitted Mendele's school paper without Mendele's prior knowledge. At Berdichev in the Ukraine, where he lived in 1858-1869, he began to publish fiction both in Hebrew and Yiddish. Having offended the local powers with his satire, he left Berdichev to train as a rabbi at the relatively theologically liberal, government-sponsored rabbinical school in Zhitomir, where he lived in 1869-1881, and became head of traditional school (Talmud Torah) in Odessa in 1881. He lived in Odessa until his death in 1917.

Mendele initially wrote in Hebrew, coining many words in that language, but ultimately switched to Yiddish in order to expand his audience. As did Sholem Aleichem, he used a pseudonym because of the perception at the time that as a ghetto vernacular, Yiddish was not suited to serious literary work an idea he did much to dispel. His writing strongly bore the mark of the Haskalah. He is considered by many to be the "grandfather of Yiddish literature"; his style in both Hebrew and Yiddish has strongly influenced several generations of later writers. . Sol Liptzin writes that in his early Yiddish narratives, Mendele "wanted to be useful to his people rather than gain literary laurels". [Liptzin, 1972, 42] "The Little Man" and the unstaged 1869 drama Die Takse ("The Tax") both condemned the corruption by which religious taxes (in the latter case, specifically the tax on kosher meat) were diverted to benefit community leaders rather than the poor. This satiric tendency continued in Die Klatshe (The Dobbin, 1873) about a prince, a stand-in for the Jewish people, who is bewitched and becomes a much put-upon beast of burden, but maintains his moral superiority throughout his sufferings (a theme evidently influenced by the Apuleius' classical picareseque novel The Golden Ass). His later work became more humane and less satiric, starting with Fishke (written 1868-1888) and continuing with the unfinished Masoes Beniamin Hashlishi ( ) (The Wanderings of Benjamin III, 1878), something of a Jewish Don Quixote. (The title is a reference to the well-known travel book of the Medieval Spanish-Jewish traveller Benjamin of Tudela.) As with Fishke, Mendele worked on and off for decades on his long novel Dos Vinshfingeril (The Wishing Ring, 1889); at least two versions preceded the final one. It is the story of a maskilthat is, a supporter of the Haskalah, like Mendele himselfwho escapes a poor town, survives miserable to obtain a secular education much like Mendele's own, but is driven by the pogroms of the 1880s from his dreams of universal brotherhood to one of Jewish nationalism. The first English translation, by Michael Wex, was published in 2003. His last major work was his autobiography, Shlome Reb Chaims, completed shortly before his death.

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Listing Classification
20th Century:    Checked
America-South America:    Checked
First Editions:    Checked
Language:    English
Manuscript Type
Kind of Judaica