Mendele Mocher Seforim

(Shalom Jacob Abramowitz)
(1835–1917)
   Yiddish and Hebrew writer. Until the age of seventeen, Abramowitz received a traditional Jewish education in the yeshivot of Lithuania. He then spent a year in the company of a professional beggar, travelling through the Jewish Pale of Settlement in a horse-drawn waggon. Shortly afterwards he came into contact with the ideas of the Haskalah (‘Enlightenment’) and started to acquire a secular education. Until the mid-80s his most important work was his fiction, written in Yiddish and published under his pseudonym, which means Mendele the Bookseller. It broke entirely new ground in the hitherto despised Yiddish literature. Anxious to encourage the study of science among the Jews, in accordance with the aims of the Haskalah, Mendele produced in Hebrew a three- volume National History. He adopted Hebrew as his main language of composition from about 1886. Mendele broke away from the high-flown pseudo- biblical Hebrew of the Haskalah towards a simpler style, and achieved the feat of writing convincing colloquialisms in what was not then a spoken language. His subject-matter was the life of the Jewish masses in contemporary Russia and their social problems. In his treatment he achieved a sophistication new in both languages, moving away from the crudely tendentious or exaggeratedly romantic tone of most earlier fiction towards a subtler and artistically more disciplined realism.
   Mendele’s attitude towards his people showed some degree of ambivalence, sharp satire being mixed with sentimental affection. His writings reflect the struggle for the Jewish soul that was taking place in the 19 century, at first between Orthodoxy and Haskalah, and later with nationalism as an additional contender. Although he shared the disillusionment with Russian liberalism that set in after the pogroms of 1881 and the equivocal response to them of the Russian intelligentsia, he never joined the Zionist movement.

Who’s Who in Jewish History after the period of the Old Testament. . 2012.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Mendele Moykher Sforim — or Mendele Mokher Sefarim orig. Sholem Yankev Abramovitsh (Yiddish; Mendele the Book Peddler ) born Nov. 20, 1835, Kopyl, near Minsk, Russia died Dec. 8, 1917, Odessa Russian author. He lived much of his life in Ukraine, becoming a rabbi and head …   Universalium

  • Abramowitz, Jacob Shalom —    see Mendele Mocher Seforim …   Who’s Who in Jewish History after the period of the Old Testament

  • Bialik, Chaim Nachman — (1873–1934)    Hebrew poet. Bialik was the most outstanding figure in modern Hebrew literature. He was born in Radi, in the province of Volhynia, in southern Russia. When he was six, his family moved to nearby Zhitomir. His father died the… …   Who’s Who in Jewish History after the period of the Old Testament

  • Benjamin of Tudela — (Binyamin MeTudela) was a medieval Navarrese rabbi and explorer who traveled through Europe, Asia, and Africa in the 12th century. His vivid descriptions of western Asia preceded those of Marco Polo by a hundred years. With his broad education… …   Wikipedia

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