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

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

“Repairing Love” - A Short Story by Alexander Spiegelblatt, 2003- translated. by Sean Sidky from Yiddish

1927 - Bukovia, Romania

1964 Emigrated to Israel

2013 - Israel

Yiddish literature effectively came to a close about 2005 with the passing of Blume Lempel, Chava Rosenfarb and now I add to that honor role, Alexander Spiegelblatt. (I know people still write fiction in Yiddish just as scholars write poems in Latin in the style of Ovid but these are just exercises.)

I have said numerous times that there is no culture more deeply into Reading than that of the Ashkenazi.  The intensify with which the Torah was studied was brought by secularized Jews to literary and philosophical studies.

“Repairing Love” meanders through Doctor Tanya Englenest’s memories of meeting her husband for the first time working as an emergency room doctor back in Romania, before she immigrated to Israel.  He did not it seems move to Israel with her and she has just gotten a letter about his dying when hit by a car. He was walking across the street while reading a book and never saw the car.  

Her husband had been brought into her hospital after being beaten by Romanian Anti-Semetic  thugs.

““From that first moment, she had not let him out of her sight. She cared for him as if he were her own, far more than she did any of the other patients they brought in at night. In the morning, she bought him a new pair of glasses, and once his broken hand was set in plaster and his wounds dressed, she took him home herself. Later, she would ask herself repeatedly what she’d seen in him and why it was that she’d treated him like family from the very beginning. But she had no answers.”

This is a marevlously crafted story, we see her husband truly lived, for better or worse and belief me there is a worst, very much a reading life.

I’m getting behind in my posting, and this segment is so marvelous i will share it

“Now the letter transported Tanya back to the moment when she’d entered his home for the first time. Florika, his long-time servant, had been standing in the open doorway. When she saw him covered in bandages she crossed herself, invoking her saints.

He lived alone on a central street in the old city. Not a wall in the four spacious rooms was bare. There were bookcases everywhere reaching to the ceiling: some of the books were behind glass, some behind closed, wooden doors, and some packed into open shelves. No light penetrated the dark, heavy curtains. The stools and benches were piled high with books and magazines; even the enormous writing desk had hardly any clear space on it. In the corner of one of the rooms stood a narrow, unmade sofa bed. Florika had not been able to keep the rooms tidy, and a thick layer of untouched dust covered the furniture and books.

Recalling this, Tanya could suddenly feel, once again, the charged and stuffy air that had hit her nostrils as she’d stepped over the threshold. The rooms both intrigued and revolted her, filling her with respect and fear simultaneously. It was the same feeling she’d had as a student in Vienna, in her first anatomy class. At that time, she’d run away, but this time she could not, and so she stood paralyzed, speechless.
He, on the other hand, who hadn’t opened his mouth the entire time he was in the hospital, now could not keep it shut. For the first time Tanya heard his high-pitched voice: nearly a falsetto. He spoke in Romanian, with a slight Moldavian accent, as if he were a Gentile intellectual deliberately revealing his roots. His words were extravagant, as if he were making up for the hours he’d been silent. He spoke about the Romanian students and their anti-Semitic mentor, Professor A. K. Kuza; he spoke about Jewish and non-Jewish celebrities; and he quoted strange Latin phrases, lines from Pascal, verses from Heinrich Heine, and other French and Romanian poets. He peppered his lofty speech with prosaic phrases like, "you must understand," "as I’m sure you know," "you’ll recall," and "I’d remind you," his voice deepening slightly as he uttered them.”

As far as I can tell, this story Is only translated into English work.  

Alexander Spiegelblatt was born in 1927 in Bukovina. In 1941, he was deported to concentration camps across Transnistria, where he would remain through 1944. In 1964, Spiegelblatt moved from Bucharest to Israel, where he would serve for over two decades as co-editor with Avrom Sutzkever of the Yiddish literary journal Di goldene keyt. He also published eight collections of poetry, a collection of short stories and a novel. Spiegelblatt died in November, 2013.
“Repairing Love,” comes from the 2003 collection Shadows Knock on the Window. All the stories in this collection follow the lives of individuals interrupted by war, death, and the Holocaust. In this case, Tanya’s life is defined by deaths: her father, her son during the Holocaust, and her estranged husband, whose death, announced in a letter, opens the story..from The Yiddish Book Center

Sean Sidky is a graduate student in Comparative Literature at Indiana University, Bloomington. He was a Yiddish Book Center Translation Fellow in 2017, this excerpt comes from his fellowship project. 

My thanks to Mr.Sidky for this translation.  I hope is working on other stories by
Alexander Spiegelblatt.

Mel u

1 comment:

Suko said...

This sounds like fascinating short fiction, with a theme perfect for The Reading Life. Thanks for posting this snippet!