Abramovitsh, Sholem Yankev
ABRAMOVITSH, SHOLEM YANKEV
ABRAMOVITSH, SHOLEM YANKEV (Jacob , also Mendele Moykher Sforim ; 1835 or 1836–1917), Hebrew and Yiddish writer, often called the "grandfather" of modern Judaic literature. Abramovitsh was born in Kapulia (Kopyl), near Minsk; he lived in Berdichev from 1858 to 1869 and subsequently in Zhitomir. In 1881 he was appointed principal of the talmud torah in Odessa, a position he held until 1916 – except for two years spent in Geneva, Switzerland, following his traumatic experience of the 1905 pogroms. Abramovitsh's long life spanned several periods in the development of Jewish society in Eastern Europe: the *Haskalah and the period of reform under Czar *Alexander ii, the aftermath of the 1881 pogroms, *Ḥibbat Zion, the Socialism of the *Bund, and Zionism.
Abramovitsh began his literary career as a Hebrew essayist and fiction writer but soon turned to Yiddish. With five short novels written between 1864 and 1878, he laid the foundation for modern Yiddish fiction. In 1886, he returned to Hebrew with a series of short stories that literary historians have often viewed as a seminal contribution to the revival of modern Hebrew literature. He also expanded his early Yiddish works and translated them into Hebrew. As an integral member of the Jewish intelligentsia in Odessa, Abramovitsh was in contact with the Yiddish writer *Sholem Aleichem, with the historian Simon *Dubnow, and with Hebrew writers such as Ḥ.N. *Bialik, Y.Ḥ. *Rawnitzki, and *Aḥad Ha-Am.
Readers and critics have often referred to Abramovitsh as "Mendele Moykher Sforim" ("Mendele the Book Peddler"), yet Dan Miron showed in A Traveler Disguised (1973; 1996) that this is misleading. First appearing in 1864 and evolving in Yiddish and Hebrew over the next half century, Mendele is a character or persona in Abramovitsh's works. Hence it is inaccurate to use the designation as if it were simply the author's pen name. Abramovitsh seems to have created the Mendele persona as a way of reaching a broad readership. Instead of speaking from above, as did many Hebrew maskilim, he uses the folksy Mendele as his mouthpiece. Sometimes the enlightened Abramovitsh employs irony at the expense of the more naïve Mendele. The Jubilee editions of his complete works, in both Hebrew (1909–12) and Yiddish (1911–13), try to circumvent this problem by having it both ways, using a title followed by a parenthesis: Ale verk fun Mendele Moykher Sforim (S.Y. Abramovitsh).
Abramovitsh was the son of Ḥayyim Moyshe Broyde, a prosperous and respected man who was one of the outstanding talmudic scholars in the small town of Kapulia. Situated in the Minsk province of Czarist Russia (now Belarus), this shtetl was culturally associated with Jewish Lithuania ("Lita"). Hence Abramovitsh was schooled in the prevailing Lithuanian rabbinic style, with emphasis on the Hebrew Bible, its Aramaic translation, and the Talmud. He received an unusually rigorous ḥeder education from a talented melammed (teacher) named Yose Rubens; according to Abramovitsh's own account, during his years at ḥeder he memorized most of the Hebrew Bible. Instructed by Rubens until the age of 11, Abramovitsh was impressed by his artistic abilities as a wood carver. Following the death of his father in about 1849, Abramovitsh studied at yeshivot in Timkovitz, Slutsk, and Vilna. After two years in Slutsk he returned to live with his mother, now remarried and living in the picturesque village of Mielnik, which was surrounded by a forest. His experiences there may be reflected in his story "Dos Tosefos-Yontev Kelbl" ("The Calf," 1911), in which a yeshivah boy returns home and becomes engrossed by the world of nature. At about the age of 17, Abramovitsh wrote his first Hebrew poetry, consisting of odes to nature in the neo-Biblical style known as meliẓah.
Abramovitsh later traveled south with an aunt in an effort to find her husband, who had fled his creditors when his business failed. Their resourceful guide, Avreml Khromoi (Abraham the Lame), regaled them with stories about the better life that awaited them in Volhynia. Avreml did not travel by the shortest route but made as many stops as possible to collect charity. The difficult experiences during these circuitous travels became the impetus for Abramovitsh's greatest Yiddish novel, Fishke der Krumer ("Fishke the Lame," 1869/1888). At the end of their journeys Abramovitsh settled in Kamenets-Podolski, where he was briefly married to a mentally ill woman. There he also met the maskilic author Avraham-Ber Gottlober, probably his model for the impoverished writer Herr Gutmann in Dos Kleyne Mentshele ("The Little Man," 1864). Although Gottlober was not impressed by the juvenile Hebrew verses that the young Abramovitsh showed him, he recognized his talent. As a teacher at the government school for Jewish boys, Gottlober was able to direct Abramovitsh's studies and introduce him to the wider world of literature, mathematics, and science. With the assistance of Gottlober's daughters, Abramovitsh learned German and Russian, passed a teacher's examination, and taught at the Kamenets-Podolski government school in 1856–58. During that time education became the subject of his first publication, "Mikhtav al Devar ha-Ḥinukh" ("A Letter on Education," 1857), published with Gottlober's help in the Hebrew journal Ha-Maggid.
Abramovitsh married Pessie Levin in 1858 and moved with her to Berdichev, supported by his father-in-law, while he continued his autodidactic education and literary activities. Berdichev was heavily populated by ḥasidim, which led Abramovitsh into conflict with a form of Jewish life that he had seldom encountered in the north, except during his studies in Timkovitz. His fiction, in which a town resembling Berdichev is called "Glupsk" (= a town of fools), expressed his hostility toward the Jewish community leaders. In Dos Vintshfingerl ("The Wishing-Ring"), he mocked ḥasidic resistance to modernization: "The ḥasidim were not pleased, because Gutmann dressed like a German. And when the floor of the school was washed, they became furious. 'What's the meaning of this? To do such a thing in a school! What's this, washing off the mud that our ancestors left behind?!'" (1865, p. 7).
In 1860 Abramovitsh published his first book, a collection of Hebrew essays entitled Mishpat Shalom ("The Judgment of Peace," alluding to the author's name), which included a translated article on whether corporeal punishment of children is permissible. A cause of much subsequent debate was his lead essay, "Kilkul ha-Minim" ("The Confusion of Gender"), which critiqued a work by Eliezer Zweifel. He occupied himself with natural sciences and began to translate Harald Othmar Lenz's Gemeinnützige Naturgeschichte ("Natural History for General Use," 1835–39), which appeared in Hebrew as Sefer Toledot ha-Teva ("The Book of Natural History," 3 vols., 1862–73). This project reflected his concern that Jews were not sufficiently educated in matters of science and nature, yet it achieved limited results because the audience for secular Hebrew writing was small. Abramovitsh's first Hebrew novel, Limdu Heitev ("Learn to Do Well") was published in Warsaw in 1862. The Russian title page calls it "a novel in the pure Hebrew language," which shows Abramovitsh's early adherence to the literary principles of the Berlin Enlightenment, including a strong preference for the supposedly "pure language" (leshon ẓaḥ) of the biblical prophets. Because he emulated that allusive, ornamental style, his early Hebrew writings were derivative and aesthetically unremarkable. He revised his short novel and published it under the new title Ha-Avot ve-ha-Banim ("Fathers and Children," 1868), alluding to the 1862 novel of the same title by Ivan Turgenev.
Prospects for advances in the Jews' material conditions and educational privileges improved in the 1860s under Alexander ii. At that time, Abramovitsh followed the maskilic bent in the didactic goals of his fiction: according to his 1889 autobiographical account in Nahum *Sokolow's Sefer Zikkaron, "I said to myself, here I am observing the ways of our people and seeking to give them stories from a Jewish source in the Holy Tongue, yet most of them do not even know this language and speak Yiddish. What good does a writer do with all of his toil and ideas if he is not useful to his people? This question – for whom do I toil? – gave me no rest and brought me into great confusion."
In November 1864, serialization of Abramovitsh's Dos Kleyne Mentshele ("The Little Man"), to which many scholars trace the beginning of modern Yiddish literature, began in Kol Mevasser ("A Heralding Voice" – the Yiddish supplement to Ha-Meliẓ, edited by Alexander Tsederboym (*Zederbaum)). The book was reprinted in 1865 with the subtitle: Oder a Lebensbashraybung fun Yitzhok Avrom Takif ("Or, a Life-description by the Powerful Man Isaac Abraham"). While no author's name appeared on the title page, Abramovitsh hinted at his identity by attributing the book to "a man" (ish, Aleph-Yod-Shin, Abramovitsh's initials in reverse). Such anonymity was a common stratagem among Yiddish authors, both because their political views often drew censure and because Yiddish writing was held in low esteem.
Abramovitsh raged against the complacent rich who, as he wrote in a letter to Lev Binshtok, "rest in the shadow of money." His own financial circumstances were especially difficult around 1866, when he published his second collection of Hebrew essays, Ein Mishpat ("Fountain of Judgment") and the second volume of Sefer Toledot ha-Teva, for which he drew terminology from talmudic sources and in this respect influenced modern Hebrew usage. Some critics believe that his descriptions of nature and animal behavior anticipate his later fiction.
At a time when modern Yiddish theater was still in its infancy, Abramovitsh wrote the play Di Takse ("The Tax," 1869; it bore the ironic subtitle: Oder di Bande Shtot Baley Toyves, "Or, the Gang of City Benefactors"). Written in order to advance his reformist goals, it is more successful as social criticism than as drama. He had encountered widespread corruption among the community leaders of Berdichev and depicted the wrongdoings of these false benefactors in a transparent satire. According to one account, the powerful men of Berdichev forced Abramovitsh to leave the town after his satiric portrayal was published. Abramovitsh then moved to Zhitomir, where he studied at the Rabbinical Institute. Since this school educated many young Jewish men seeking higher education, and not only would-be rabbis, it was not unusual that Abramovitsh ended his studies there without receiving a degree.
In the 1870s, Abramovitsh experimented with writing Yiddish verse, favoring outmoded tetrameter and pentameter couplets. His poetic efforts ranged from an allegorical poem about the Jewish people, "Yudl" (1875), to traditional Judaic literature. He wrote Yiddish translations of Sabbath songs called Zmires Yisroel ("Songs of Israel," 1875) and compiled nature hymns in a Yiddish adaptation of the ḥasidic Perek Shirah (1875). He planned to translate the prayer book and the Psalms into Yiddish, but this project remained unfinished and only fragments are extant. In contrast to the German maskilim, Abramovitsh (like Mendel Lefin) recognized the importance of reaching common Yiddish readers in their mother tongue while also combating the influence of the Tsene-Rene with its archaic language and heavy reliance on midrashic elaborations.
One of Abramovitsh's most widely read books was his allegorical novel, Di Klyatshe; Oder Tsar Baley Khayim ("The Nag; or, Cruelty to Animals," 1873). Its epigraph quotes from Song of Songs 1:9, which Abramovitsh expands in Yiddish: "To my mare among Pharaoh's chariots I compare you – People of Israel." During the period of reform between 1856 and 1881, the number of Jews at Russian high schools and universities increased from about 1% to over 10% of the total population of students. Yet Isrolik, a typical boy who has received a traditional Jewish education, runs into difficulties because of his unfamiliarity with subjects such as history and Slavic folklore. As he becomes mentally imbalanced, Isrolik hallucinates about meeting a talking horse and trying to improve her lot. Her sufferings are "as old as the Jewish exile," because she represents the fate of the Jewish people.
Unlike most of Abramovitsh's fiction, which concentrates on Jewish life in the impoverished shtetlekh in the Pale of Settlement, Di Klyatshe presents a wider panorama of Czarist Russia, with special attention to relations among antisemites and Jews; hooligans who torment the nag obviously represent antisemites. There is even a critique of the well-intentioned maskilim, when Isrolik reads aloud his letter to a benevolent society – an oblique representation of the Society for the Spread of Enlightenment (ope). The nag refers to the ornamental, pseudo-biblical Hebrew style when she responds bitterly: "Melitza, melitza, melitza!" She rightly doubts whether any practical results will ensue from Isrolik's highfalutin rhetoric. Yet Di Klyatshe was a bold political allegory: in one of his nightmarish fantasies, for instance, Ashmodai – the King of the Demons – seems to represent the Czar.
Kitser Masoes Binyomen Hashlishi ("The Brief Travels of Benjamin the Third," 1878) centers on a pair of hapless, would-be explorers, Benjamin and Senderl, who somewhat resemble Cervantes' Don Quixote and Sancho Panza. Instead of depicting a petty nobleman who has read too many chivalric romances and acts as if he inhabits one, Abramovitsh portrays Benjamin as a Jew who has read too many narratives about travel to the Holy Land. Abramovitsh attacks the impracticality and worldly ignorance of Benjamin and his sidekick Senderl, because they are stereotypical traditional Jews whose life experience consists almost exclusively of Torah study. Benjamin's provisions for travel consist of little more than his prayer book, prayer shawl, and tefillin; only Senderl has the sense to bring food. Their wives are market women who eke out a meager living and dominate their families. Toward the end of the book, Abramovitsh takes aim at the horrific phenomenon of khappers (press-gangs) who kidnap Jews for induction into the Czar's army; in this comic account, however, Benjamin and Senderl are discharged because they prove to be more trouble than they are worth.
A reprint of Dos Kleyne Mentshele (1879) brought to a close the most productive period of Abramovitsh's Yiddish writing. The comparatively optimistic period of reform begun in 1855 by Alexander ii, the so-called "Liberator Czar," had ended abruptly with his assassination in 1881 – followed by anti-Jewish pogroms and a period of reaction during which the conditions for Yiddish publishing also changed. During the same period Abramovitsh experienced personal and family troubles. His daughter Rashel, a talented art student, died in St. Petersburg, while his son Meir (Mikhail), a Russian poet, was exiled for political activism and later converted to Christianity. Abramovitsh described his malaise in a letter to Lev Binshtok on January 16, 1880: "As soon as I take up the pen, I feel an overwhelming heaviness: my hands are bound as if by magical chains" (see Dos Mendele Bukh, 107). On June 5, 1884, he wrote to another friend that "the misfortunes of the recent period have turned my heart into stone, so that my tongue has not allowed me to speak and my hands have not allowed me to write a word" (ibid., 128). For several years he produced no major works in Yiddish. Subsequently, in 1886–1896, as part of the movement to revive Hebrew, he devoted much of his creative energy to writing Hebrew short fiction.
In 1888, Sholem Aleichem sought out Abramovitsh, hoping to include his writings in the anthology he was editing, Di Folksbibliotek ("The Jewish Popular Library"). Their correspondence quickly assumed an intimate tone, with Sholem Aleichem referring to Abramovitsh as "Grandfather," while Abramovitsh referred to Sholem Aleichem as "Grandson" – although their difference in age was only 23 years. At first Abramovitsh was evasive, complaining of insufficient time because of his work as principal of the Odessa Talmud Torah, but he did contribute the first two parts of the expanded and quite altered version of Dos Vintshfingerl ("The Wishing-Ring," 1888–89). This narrative of Hershele's impoverished childhood in Kabtsansk ("Beggarsville"), replete with irony and satire, still shows traces of nostalgia for shtetl life.
Although Abramovitsh had continued publishing sporadically in Hebrew throughout the 1870s, he devoted this decade mainly to writing in Yiddish. He returned to Hebrew with the story, "Be-Seter Ra'am" ("In the Secret Place of Thunder," 1886–87), his first Hebrew belletristic work since 1868. Hebrew became Abramovitsh's literary focus in the 1890s, when in addition to publishing Hebrew short fiction he began translating his Yiddish novels. One of his most successful Hebrew stories is "Shem ve-Yefet ba-Aggalah" ("Shem and Japheth on the Train," 1890), in which Mendele the Book Peddler abandons his horse and carriage and travels in a third-class train compartment. There he meets Moyshe the Tailor, a latter-day Moses who has no Torah to offer beyond stratagems for the survival of the oppressed.
Following a decade in which Abramovitsh printed his Hebrew short fiction, 1896–97 saw the publication of Hebrew versions of Masa'ot Benyamin ha-Shlishi ("Travels of Benjamin the Third") and Be-Emek ha-Bakhah ("In the Vale of Tears"). A few years later, Ḥ.N. Bialik translated the first eight chapters of Fishke der krumer ("Fishke the Lame") as Sefer ha-Kabe ẓanim: Nun Kefufah ("The Book of Beggars: A Crooked Letter Nun," 1901), but Abramovitsh was not satisfied. For the most part Abramovitsh translated or adapted his own works into Hebrew. In the late novel Shloyme, Reb Khayims ("Solomon, Ḥayyim's Son") – or, in Hebrew, Ba-Yamim ha-Hem ("In Those Days") – Abramovitsh is less satiric than in his early works.
Abramovitsh records the plight of Russian Jewry suffering tyranny and hate from without and exploitation by the Jewish upper classes from within. In some works Abramovitsh continues the Haskalah tradition of satirizing folk beliefs (e.g., in Fishke der Krumer and Kitser Masoes Binyomin ha-Shlishi). Elsewhere he evokes the intimate experiences of Jewish childhood, as in works such as the late verion of Dos Vintshfingerl and the autobiographical novel Shloyme, Reb Khayims. Many of his characters are drawn from Jewish life in the towns and cities of Belorussia and Lithuania, where he spent his childhood, while other works portray characters from Volhynia and southern Russia, with the action taking place in Berdichev, Zhitomir, Odessa, and other towns in the Jewish Pale of Settlement. Following a Russian tradition, Abramovitsh uses fictitious place names that satirically describe the qualities of their inhabitants – such as "Glupsk," the town of fools modeled on Berdichev; "Tsviatshits," a town of hypocrisy; "Tuneyadevka," suggesting parasitism; and "Kabtsansk," or Paupersville. Although Abramovitsh was immersed in Judaic traditions, he also was influenced by European fiction, as reflected in his parody of Don Quixote (in Kitser Masoes Binyomin ha-Shlishi). His Dos Kleyne Mentshele ("The Little Man") and Fishke der Krumer ("Fishke the Lame") reflect the Russian satiric tradition of Gogol and Saltykov-Shchedrin as well as the picaresque novel of authors such as Henry Fielding. He adopted some typical patterns of the sentimental adventure story in Fishke der Krumer, in which surprising coincidences occur. Based on that novel, Chaver-Paver wrote a screenplay and Edgar Ulmer directed the powerful Yiddish film Fishke der Krumer (known in English as "The Light Ahead," 1939).
Although Abramovitsh began writing in Yiddish for the practical purpose of reaching a larger reading public, he eventually came to regard his work in Yiddish to be of intrinsic artistic value in its own right. Abramovitsh's style is an effective instrument for satire and irony, especially when it is deliberately incongruous: phrases originally expressing the sacred are applied to the profane, and the reverse. In a 1907 letter to Y.Ḥ. Rawnitzki, for example, Abramovitsh alluded to the Creation story when he recalled his original goal: "Let us create a Hebrew style that will be lively, speaking clearly and precisely, the way people do in our time and place, and let its soul be Jewish." In many of the prefaces to his novels, Mendele Moykher Sforim uses mock prayers that begin, "Praised be the Creator…," and then turn into attacks on corruption. Abramovitsh's traditional narrators – such as Mendele Moykher Sforim, Isaac Abraham Takif, or Alter Yaknoz – provide Abramovitsh with many opportunities for ironic play and enable him to achieve artistic distance from his story.
Abramovitsh's Hebrew style went through a number of stages. In the 1860s he was still under the influence of Abraham *Mapu's neo-biblical rhetoric, particularly in his early Hebrew stories. Abramovitsh carried on the tradition of expanding the Hebrew language, as introduced by Haskalah writers such as Isaac *Satanow, Menahem Mendel (Lefin) Levin, and Joseph *Perl, whose style absorbed elements of Mishnaic Hebrew, medieval philosophical literature, and ḥasidic literature influenced by spoken Yiddish. Abramovitsh's process of creating a synthetic Hebrew style composed of many historical layers reached its peak after 1886. On the occasion of Abramovitsh's 75th birthday, in 1910–11, Ḥ.N. Bialik asserted that Abramovitsh was the "creator of the nusaḥ," which he described as a new synthesis drawing from many historical layers of Hebrew. According to Bialik, Abramovitsh's nusaḥ had already become the dominant style in Hebrew literature. Many 20th century critics accepted Bialik's view, although some writers such as Y.Ḥ. *Brenner countered with a kind of anti-nusaḥ. In any event, Abramovitsh contributed to greater fluidity in Hebrew style by moving beyond the more rigid biblical meliẓah of his predecessors.
Abramovitsh wrote in both Yiddish and Hebrew throughout his career, which led to a productive interaction between his writings in these languages. Simon Dubnow made an important observation on Abramovitsh's bilingual creativity: when he "had the Yiddish original of the first parts of Dos Vintshfingerl in front of him, he made the Hebrew translation – or more precisely, the reworking – masterfully and without any difficulties. When it came to writing more without the Yiddish original, however, he sensed that it would not go smoothly. One cannot create content and language at the same time, but only one after the other; one must create the content first, in the language of the life that is portrayed in the artwork. On this foundation, then, he could build the style of the revived Hebrew language (Fun "Zhargon" tsu Yidish ("From 'Jargon' to Yiddish"), 1929, p. 46). In his striving for artistic perfection, Abramovitsh continually reworked his novels and stories, enlarging and polishing them. The later versions of his works, and particularly the Jubilee Edition, moderated his satiric stance; he also diminished the pro-Enlightenment propaganda that was present in early works such as Dos Vinshfingerl. During the process of bilingual recreation, in later adaptations of his works, Abramovitsh introduced important variations in content and style. He did not merely translate his works from Yiddish into Hebrew but rather reinvented them.
Abramovitsh is rightly remembered for his descriptions of nature, his trenchant satire, and his sympathetic portrayals of the poor. The lack of natural descriptions in Judaic literature prior to Abramovitsh is legendary. Abramovitsh's narrator Mendele, however, pays great attention to the natural world. Satire had been a common literary device among the maskilim writing in German and Hebrew, and Abramovitsh became the most powerful satiric author in Yiddish letters. Because his basic ideology was that of the Jewish Enlightenment, Abramovitsh continued writing in a satiric vein even after the political setbacks of 1881. Later in life, in part because of his position at the talmud torah in Odessa, Abramovitsh tempered his critiques. Beyond his satiric impulses, Abramovitsh shows ample sympathy toward the underclass and unusual sensitivity to the plight of poor Jewish boys.
Abramovitsh's Yiddish and Hebrew writings attracted attention from the start, but critical interest in them grew especially in the 1880s, after he had published his major Yiddish works. This interest increased early in the 20th century as Abramovitsh's Hebrew fiction won admiration, on the one hand, and drew reserved and even negative reaction on the other. From an ideological point of view, critics have been interested in his attitude toward the Ḥibbat Zion movement and his stand on the social problems of the oppressed multitudes in Russia. Readers have sometimes seen Abramovitsh as a preacher, loyal to his people and calling for a radical change in Diaspora life. Other critics such as David Frishman stressed the documentary character of Abramovitsh's descriptions of the shtetl, which might someday serve as a historical testimony to the Jewish way of life in the 19th century. Some other critics have thought that his harsh portrayals of shtetl life give a distorted image of Jewish existence there. While critics have admired his descriptions of nature and his epic achievement in recreating Jewish shtetl types, they have occasionally argued that – because he uses exaggeration and grotesque caricature – Abramovitsh inadequately represents the lives of individuals.
A unique source of information about Abramovitsh's formative years is an essay in the Russian-Jewish journal Voskhod ("Sunrise," 1884), by his childhood friend Yehuda-Leyb (Lev) Binshtok. Also essential are Abramovitsh's essay "Reshimot le-Toledotai" ("My Life Story," in Nahum Sokolov's Sefer Zikkaron, 1889) and his many letters contained in Dos Mendele Bukh ("The Mendele Book," ed. Nakhman Mayzel, 1959). A fictionalized account of Abramovitsh's childhood may be found in his autobiographical novel Shloyme Reb Khayims, which appeared serially in Yiddish starting in 1899 (printed in book form, 1911); in Hebrew, the autobiographical novel appeared as Ba-Yamim ha-Hem ("In Those Days," starting with the Petikhtah, 1894; printed in book form, 1911).
On the occasion of Abramovitsh's 75th birthday and in celebration of his wide popularity based on 50 years of writing, the Jubilee editions of his works were published in 1909–11 (Hebrew, in three volumes) and in 1911–13 (Yiddish, in 16 volumes). Some important studies of Abramovitsh are by Shmuel Niger (1936), Meir Viner (1946), Gershon Shaked (1965), and Dan Miron (1973). In English, Ken Frieden (1995) gives an overview of his life and work and interprets his major fiction in relation to the other classic Yiddish writers – Sholem Aleichem and I.L. Peretz. In a new vein, Naomi Seidman (1997) discusses gender issues in Abramovitsh's writing.
Ale Verk fun Mendele Moykher Sforim (S.Y. Abramovitsh) (1911–13), standard ed. of Yiddish works; Kol Kitvei Mendele Moykher Sforim (S.Y. Abramovitsh) (1909–12) and Kol Kitvei Mendele Mokher Sfarim (1966), Hebrew works; Tales of Mendele the Book Peddler, ed. D. Miron and K. Frieden (1996); Classic Yiddish Stories Stories of S.Y. Abramovitsh, Sholem Aleichem, and I.L. Peretz, ed. and trans. K. Frieden et al. (2004); Sh. Niger, Mendele Moykher Sforim: Zayn Lebn, Zayne Gezelshaftlekhe un Literarishe Oyftuungen (1936); M. Viner, Tsu der Geshikhte fun der Yidisher Literatur in 19-tn Yorhundert (1946); Y. Klausner, in: Sifrut, 6 (1950), 353–516; Rejzen, in: Leksikon, 6 (1965), 48–72; G. Shaked, Bein Ẓeḥok le-Dema: Iyyunim be-Yiẓirato shel Mendele Mokher-Sfarim (1965); D. Miron, A Traveler Disguised: A Study in the Rise of Modern Yiddish Fiction in the Nineteenth Century (1973; 1996); Sh. Werses, Mi-Mendele ad Hazaz: Sugi'ot be-Hitpatḥhut ha-Sipporet ha-Ivrit (1987); K. Frieden, Classic Yiddish Fiction: Abramovitsh, Sholem Aleichem, and Peretz (1995); N. Seidman, A Marriage Made in Heaven: The Sexual Politics of Hebrew and Yiddish (1997).
[Ken Frieden (2nd ed.)]