Instructor: Jan Schwarz
Capped at 20 students.
Most people know I.B. Singer as a Jewish American storyteller and fabulist but his early writings reveal an edgier, darker side of his Yiddish work. Through readings of Singer’s early writings published before he arrived in New York in May 1935, the course will offer new perspectives on a major 20th century Jewish writer.
The first decade of Singer’s literary career in Warsaw is virtually unknown except for the acclaimed historical novel Satan in Goray (1935) about the messianic Sabbatai Zevi movement in the aftermath of mid 17th century Chielmnicky pogroms. In addition to this novel, we will be reading stories, essays, memoirs and sketches which Singer published in the Yiddish press between 1925-1935. Singer’s first steps as a Yiddish writer will be situated in the literary and cultural-political context of realism, modernism, and the popular literature (shund) which characterized interwar Yiddish literature in the three main centers Warsaw, New York and Moscow. All the primary and secondary texts will be available in English and Yiddish.