Cover image for No star too beautiful : Yiddish stories from 1382 to the present
No star too beautiful : Yiddish stories from 1382 to the present
Neugroschel, Joachim.
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Norton, [2002]

Physical Description:
xvii, 710 pages ; 25 cm
Added Author:
Format :


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PJ5191.E1 N62 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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No Star Too Beautiful is a bountiful anthology that brings together the masterpieces of this nowvanishing tongue that was once the everyday speech of Jews all over Europe, and later globally. Joachim Neugroschel has chosen stories emblematic of the people and their times, from the earliest extant written work to the present. He has newly translated almost all the stories, some appearing in English for the first time, and his introductions to the pieces provide historical context.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Far from the light, uproarious bits and pieces of Leo Rosten's popular The New Joys of Yiddish (2001), this comprehensive anthology is for serious readers interested in the history, culture, and literature. Arranged chronologically, the approximately 75 selections show the huge diversity of Yiddish fiction, from medieval fable to Isaac Bashevis Singer and twentieth-century modernism. Neugroschel's excellent translations preserve the idiom of the storytelling whether the tale is mystical or realistic, set in the shtetl, the death camps, or New York. Many stories reflect the lives of ordinary people at home, especially women. Neugroschel's brief introductions are as interesting as the stories; in fact, he leaves you wanting to know more about the individual writers and their differences. He says that it is those differences--the historic pitched battles between secularism and religion, between Hebrew and Yiddish, between assimilation, Communism, Socialism, Zionism, etc.--that have provided much inspiration for Yiddish fiction. The storytelling shows both the wonder of the various traditions and the venomous attacks on them. Both make for great reading. --Hazel Rochman

Publisher's Weekly Review

The six centuries of Yiddish literature surveyed here amount to a history of the Jewish people and the philosophies that have sustained them. Divided into four parts, the anthology offers biblical fables, religious mysticism, stories from the Jewish Enlightenment and finally modernist tales. Yiddish and German translator Neugroschel translated all of the pieces himself and gives a scintillating explanation of the development of Yiddish as Jews migrated from the Middle East through various parts of Europe. Early tales draw on the Torah and Talmud; the earliest piece is a somewhat salacious romp chronicling the lust Potiphar's wife feels for the enslaved Joseph, while The Mayse Book of 1602 is probably the origin of the famous story of Hillel's one-sentence response to a convert's demand to be taught the entire Torah while he stood on one foot ("Just follow the biblical verse, `Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.' That is the basis of the entire Torah"). The Tsene-Rene, excerpted here, was the 17th-century "women's bible" written entirely in colloquial Yiddish for the benefit of (mostly female) non-Hebrew speakers. There are stories about 18th- and 19th-century Hasidic tzadiks and excerpts from Yoysef Perl's scathing 1819 satirical novel, The Revealer of Secrets, which attacked the corruption of Hasidic rabbis. The largest section by far is "Modernism"; familiar names like Sholom Aleichem, Menakhem Kipnis and Isaac Bashevis Singer are flanked by those of dozens of lesser known authors who write about Jewish life in pastoral villages and urban tenements, from the late 19th century to 2000. (Oct. 21) Forecast: This comprehensive collection should be a library and backlist staple and is likely to be picked up for course adoption around the country. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Neugroschel (Great Tales of Jewish Fantasy and the Occult) has edited and translated this historic survey of Yiddish stories. Short stories, excerpts from novels, and some verse portray the great questions of Jewish life through the centuries: religion, assimilation, Zionism, poverty, social relationships, and anti-Semitism. The complex relationship between Yiddish and Hebrew (many of the authors wrote in both languages) is shown. Neugroschel divides the selections chronologically into four periods: Old Yiddish, Hasidim and Anti-Hasidim, Haskala (the Jewish Enlightenment), and Modernism. His introductions and headnotes are very helpful in placing the works. All the great names of Yiddish are here: Yakov ben Yitskhov Ashkenazi, Glikl of Hamelin, Rabbi Nakhman of Brasley, Mendele Moykher-Sforim, Yitsik Leybesh Peretz, S. Ansky, Sholom Aleichem, H. Leivick, Sholem Asch, Y.Y. Singer, Der Nister, and, of course, Isaac Bashevis Singer. Among the lesser-known writers, David Bergelson's "The Deaf Man" is a powerful and tragic tale. Hersh Dovid Nomberg's "In the Mountains" is a starkly romantic story of three people, while Chava Rosenfarb's "Bociany" is a poignant and touching story of what was. Women authors are also generously represented. Poor students, poor fools, and suffering humanity-here is a world wholly gone, living only in the imagination. Recommended for Jewish literature and studies collections.-Gene Shaw, NYPL (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.