Short Stories, Irish literature, Classics, Modern Fiction and Contemporary Literary Fiction, The Japanese Novel and post Colonial Asian Fiction, Yiddish Literature, The Legacy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and quality historical novels are some of my Literary Interests

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Everyday Jews: Scenes From a Vanished Life by Yehoshue Perle - 1935

My thanks to Yale University Press for a very generous gift of books.

Yehoshue Perle (1888 to 1943, Poland) was one of the most prolific and admired between the World Wars Yiddish language writers.  When Everyday Jews, set in a small community in Poland in the 1930s, was first published the left wing Jewish press was scandalized by the sexual content of the book.  

The book is told by a twelve year old boy living with his father, his step-mother and siblings.  The family has its share of issues, the step-mother probably has an affair, a daughter scandalizes the family with a miscarriage, and a forty year old woman renting a bed from the family tries to, and maybe does, seduce the narrator.  It is a struggle to make a living.  The step-mother is always throwing it in the father's face that her late husband had a lot more money than she did.  There are lots of romances, arranging a decent marriage is a top priority, and everybody worries about what the neighbors will think.  Of course there are concerns about what the Christians, the Gentiles, will do.  We see a lot of the restrictions under which Jews live.  The family lives in a small town and people are always talking about what is going on in Warsaw.  

Men were subject to be drafted into the Russian Army and in one great scene a son in the army has served his time and is coming home.  There is talk of him marrying the daughter of the head guard at the prison.  

The novel is pretty much a series of episodes in vanishing lives.  I found I wanted consistently to know what would happen next.  This is a grim story of a difficult to survive in world.  

Everyday Jews:  Scenes from a Vanishing World is considered a classic of Yiddish literature.  I am very glad I read this book.

The translation of this book by Maier  Dashell was the Winner of the fifth Fenia and Yaakov Leviant Memorial Prize in Yiddish Studies for an outstanding translation of a Yiddish literary work, given by the Modern Language Association of America

The best online article I could find on the author was at

I could not find an image of him.

Mel u

No comments: