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The city as a realm of cultural encounter and translation in Yiddish and Hebrew literature

Mon, December 17, 1:15 to 2:45pm, Seaport Hotel & World Trade Center, Cambridge 2

Session Submission Type: Panel Session

Abstract

The three papers of this panel aim to examine the depiction of the urban realm in Yiddish and Hebrew writing throughout the interwar period thereby focusing on intercultural encounters and questions of transitions and translations.
Magdalena Gebessler proposes a reading of Yoel Mastboyms’s novel Three Generations ('Dray Doyres', 1919) that engages with the interconnection of both religious and lingual assimilation within the cityscape of Warsaw. Judith Müller than discusses Micha Yosef Berdichevsky’s role as both a cultural translator and an intermediator between Yiddish and Hebrew for the development of the Hebrew scene in Weimar Berlin. One of the writers of this group is Lea Goldberg, whose Hebrew written novel Losses ('Avedot', 2010) Dekel Shay Schory compares to David Fogel’s Married Life ('Hayey Nisu'im', 1929-1931) in order to elaborate on the figure of the writer and his role in the urban realm within Hebrew literary writing.
From the Shtetl to Odessa and Lviv, from Warsaw and Vienna to Berlin and Paris – migration from east to west, from the periphery to the centre as well as from tradition towards modernism was a crucial factor in the development of modern Jewish writing in Europe, especially in Yiddish and Hebrew literature. Embarking on this path often led to a crucial development in both the authors´ personal life as well as their literary existence. Border-crossings in the broader sense did however not come to an end with the arrival in one of the beforementioned metropolises. These cities rather held a close network of cultural spaces that created even more realms of encounters. It is, thus, of particular interest to discuss how these are perceived within Yiddish and Hebrew prose. Is multilingualism represented in the literary text and if so, in what forms? What meaning corresponds to Jewish-non-Jewish encounters within the urban realm? To what extent does this multi-layered framework lead to an ever-stronger individualisation rather than an identification with former peer-groups?

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