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The Rise of Modern Yiddish Culture (Pitt Russian East European) Hardcover – November 28, 2005

ISBN-13: 978-0822942726 ISBN-10: 0822942720 Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Series: Pitt Russian East European
  • Hardcover: 200 pages
  • Publisher: University of Pittsburgh Press; 1 edition (November 28, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0822942720
  • ISBN-13: 978-0822942726
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.9 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,003,991 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

”An illuminating work of serious scholarship that provides a fresh look at the growth of Yiddish culture in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.” 
Matthew Hoffman, Shofar: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Jewish Studies, Winter 2007



“At last, a scholar has given us a comprehensive and fresh treatment of east European Yiddishism as a political and social movement. Fishman challenges the stereotype of Yiddishism as a secularist, socialist rebellion against Jewish tradition and deftly places the movement in the larger context of Russian, Polish, and Jewish politics. Written in a spare, accessible style, this book portrays one of the most important movements in modern Jewish history as it ranges from the mid-nineteenth century to the eve of World War Two.”
—Zvi Gitelman, University of Michigan



“Warmly recommended not only to students of East European Jewish history and culture but to all those interested in the ways in which language intersects with nationalism. In these matters Fishman is a most knowledgeable and reliable guide.”
—Jews in Russia and Eastern Europe

From the Back Cover

"At last, a scholar has given us a comprehensive and fresh treatment of east European Yiddishism as a political and social movement. Fishman challenges the stereotype of Yiddishism as a secularist, socialist rebellion against Jewish tradition and deftly places the movement in the larger context of Russian, Polish, and Jewish politics. Written in a spare, accessible style, this book portrays one of the most important movements in modern Jewish history as it ranges from the mid-nineteenth century to the eve of World War Two."--Zvi Gitelman, University of Michigan

"Can a politically powerless, ideologically divided, and geographically diverse people fashion a 'cultural system' out of the language that all of them happen to speak but none of them knows how to spell? Can a traditional society transform itself overnight? Are politics the engine or enemy of a cultural renaissance? Can a culture be rebuilt after most of its speakers have been murdered? The answers to these fundamental questions of the modern Jewish experience are to be found in Fishman's fascinating book."--David G. Roskies, author of Against the Apocalypse


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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Jan Peczkis on September 26, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
In my review, I do not limit my analysis to the book itself. I extend the content to broader issues of lasting relevance.

This work goes beyond Yiddishist developments. It contains an assortment of interesting information. For instance, Chaim Zhitlovsky, and other cultural radicals like him, rejected Purim as a chauvinistic celebration of Jewish vengeance. (p. 109). On another subject, Fishman provides interesting detail on the origins of YIVO, and the heroic efforts to save part of its archives from the German Nazis.

The author traces the relatively late emergence Yiddish as a modern, literary language, and then moves on to its political implications. He points out that the modernization of Jewish society itself, in tsarist Russia, was well advanced by about 1860 (p. 20), contradicting those who suppose that Russia's Jews were too backward to develop modern Yiddish culture until about 1900.

THE JANUARY 1863 UPRISING

The surprising delay in the large-scale emergence of Yiddish institutions, until nearly the start of the 20th century, owed largely to the repressive effects of the Russification that had been in place since the suppression of the Poles' January 1863 Insurrection. In elaborating on this heavy-handed Russian cultural imperialism, Fishman comments, (quote) After the Polish uprising of 1863, the tsarist Ministry of Education imposed Russian as the sole language of instruction in all elementary and secondary schools in the Kingdom of Poland and the western provinces. This step was primarily designed to uproot Polish and combat the spread of Polish nationalist sentiments among the younger generation. Secondarily, it was intended to preempt the independent cultural development of other languages, such as Ukrainian and Lithuanian.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Benjamin D. Matis on March 9, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Fishman's writing is clear, unfussy, and remarkably good. Moreover, he shows incredible command of the material and avoids the political arguments that often accompany Yiddish academia.
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