Cover image for Random harvest : the novellas of Bialik
Random harvest : the novellas of Bialik
Bialik, Hayyim Nahman, 1873-1934.
Uniform Title:
Novellas. Selections. English
Publication Information:
Boulder, Colo. : Westview Press, 1999.
Physical Description:
ix, 299 pages ; 24 cm.
Random harvest -- Behind the fence -- Big Harry -- The shamed trumpet -- Short Friday -- The legend of the three and four.
Reading Level:
1190 Lexile.
Format :


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Hayyim Nahman Bialik (1873-1934) is celebrated as one of the leading figures in modern Jewish literature. Although most famous for his Hebrew poems, Bialik was also a master of Hebrew prose. Often expressing a realism and social awareness associated with the Russia of his youth, Bialik's stories showcase his extraordinary gift for lyricism, his deft use of symbolism, and his sense of humor, captured in engaging vignettes of life in the Ukrainian countryside.David Patterson and Ezra Spicehandler have combined their formidable literary talents to produce a new translation of six of Bialik's novellas. Random Harvest: The Novellas of Bialik is written in contemporary English and takes into account the large and important corpus of Bialik criticism that has been published over the years. This stunning new translation not only evokes the subtleties of the original Hebrew, it also reveals nuances which have eluded previous translators of Bialik's prose.The novellas in this collection--"Random Harvest," "Behind the Fence," "The Shamed Trumpet," "Big Harry," "The Short Friday," and "The Legend of the Three and Four"--are each accompanied by a brief introduction. In addition, the book contains a complete glossary, making Random Harvest the most accessible collection of Bialik's stories available.

Author Notes

Hayyim Nahman Bialik (1873-1934) is celebrated as one of the leading figures in modern Jewish literature
David Patterson is president emeritus of the Oxford Centre for Hebrew & Jewish Studies
Ezra Spicehandler is professor emeritus at Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati

Reviews 1

Choice Review

With the publication of this volume, Patterson and Spicehandler renew Anglophone readers' access to important prose works by a major Hebrew poet (previous translations of the novellas are out of print). The collection represents the range of Bialik's interests, from Jewish life in the Ukrainian countryside to ancient Rabbinic legend. The title story, an unfinished fictionalized autobiography, bespeaks the poet's hand in its lyrical rendering of an imaginatively gifted child's observations of his hostile surroundings. The humor and emotional poignancy of the piece are fluidly translated. Other stories treat stock characters of folk legend, recalling the village tales of Sholem Alaichem and Gogol's Ukrainian stories. Bialik's tale of ancient quest, "The Legend of the Three and Four"--based on a Midrash about King Solomon's daughter--reflects the poet's immersion in Rabbinic literature, as well as his desire to reconcile tradition and modernity. Although the seminal contribution of this piece to modern literary Hebrew can only be realized in the original, the translators provide instructive commentary and interpretive points. The comprehensive introduction (including biographical and critical material), glossary, and annotated reading list render this volume hospitable to general readers, undergraduates, and scholars, who will welcome this long-overdue English addition to the Bialik canon. Highly recommended. N. Tittler; SUNY at Binghamton

Table of Contents

Prefacep. vii
Acknowledgmentsp. ix
Introductionp. 1
1 Random Harvestp. 17
2 Behind the Fencep. 81
3 Big Harryp. 133
4 The Shamed Trumpetp. 181
5 Short Fridayp. 211
6 The Legend of the Three and Fourp. 227
Glossaryp. 287
Further Readingp. 291
Indexp. 293