“Language for the poet is more than a vessel into which he pours his magic potion; it is the potion itself, the spell itself.” (Shmuel Niger)
How powerful is the spell of foreign poetry when translated into a minority language? The present volume is devoted to the ruthlessly self-critical reflections of Yiddish translators, critics, proofreaders, teachers and scholars of translation, chiefly in Polish and Soviet cultural spaces during the interwar period.
In their extensive translational and critical work, these translators and scholars furthered the development of Yiddish secular culture and its literature by exploring and creatively adopting new artistic forms and aesthetic concepts.
In Yiddish Warsaw, intellectuals reflected on their commitment to the language, discussed translational strategies, criticized the arbitrary character of publishers’ programs and urged them to take a more systematic approach. Soviet Yiddish scholars and writers applied the emergent Russian linguistic theory of translation to their own work. Critiques of literary translation, for example of works by Krylov, Pushkin and Twain, from a scholarly, philological and editorial point of view was also widespread in North America.
The volume contains 33 essays, beginning with a small selection on Yehoyesh’s celebrated translation of the Hebrew Bible into modern Yiddish.