Kathryn Hellerstein

Kathryn Hellerstein, A QUESTION OF TRADITION: WOMEN POETS IN YIDDISH (1586-1987), Stanford University Press

A Question of Tradition: Women Poets inYiddish

In A Question of Tradition, Kathryn Hellerstein explores the roles that women poets played in forming a modern Yiddish literary tradition. Women who wrote in Yiddish go largely unrecognized outside a rapidly diminishing Yiddish readership. Even in the heyday of Yiddish literature, they were regarded as marginal. But for over four centuries, women wrote and published Yiddish poems that addressed the crises of Jewish history—from the plague to the Holocaust—as well as the challenges and pleasures of daily life: prayer, art, friendship, nature, family, and love. Through close readings and translations of poems of eighteen writers, Hellerstein argues for a new perspective on a tradition of women Yiddish poets. Framed by a consideration of Ezra Korman's 1928 anthology of women poets, Hellerstein develops a discussion of poetry that extends from the sixteenth century through the twentieth, from early modern Prague and Krakow to high modernist Warsaw, New York, and California. The poems range from early conventional devotions, such as a printer's preface and verse prayers, to experimental, transgressive lyrics that confront a modern ambivalence toward Judaism. In an integrated study of literary and cultural history, Hellerstein shows the immensely important contribution made by women poets to Jewish literary tradition.


Subject links:
Literary Studies — Jewish
Literary Studies — General Criticism and Theory
Literature — Theater, Poetry, and Fiction
Series link: Stanford Studies in Jewish History and Culture

Selected Works

Literary Criticism
Stanford University Press (2014) http://www.sup.org/search/search.cgi?search=Hellerstein&x=8&y=3 A Question of Tradition REVIEWS OF A QUESTION OF TRADITION: 3/8/15 Philadelphia Inquirer, reviewed by Elizabeth Martins: Aside from the alluring treasury of poems this book holds, it is also a magnum opus unto itself. Author Kathryn Hellerstein, professor of Yiddish in the department of Germanic languages and literature at the University of Pennsylvania, worked on it for about 25 years. So it is not surprising that she writes with such powerful authority about poems that seem to be gushing with life. View "NONFICTION" article at http://tablet.olivesoftware.com/Olive/Tablet/PhiladelphiaInquirer/SharedArticle.aspx?href=PHQP%2F2015%2F03%2F08&id=Ar09010 1/15/15 Cleaver Magazine, reviewed by Alyssa Quint: A Question of Tradition ( Kathryn Hellerstein ) was reviewed in Cleaver Magazine 1/13/15. "Women’s Yiddish poetry finally gets its scholarly due from Kathryn Hellerstein, long-time champion of the female Yiddish poetic voice, in her comprehensive and accessible account, A Question of Tradition: Women Poets in Yiddish, 1586–1987 . . . Hellerstein’s book is comprehensive, supplying the biographical details of six important poets’ lives in one volume for the first time. Letters she quotes are revealing. . . . [Hellerstein's] book provides an amplitude to the discussion of these women that was previously denied them. The translations, accurate in meaning and still with the effortlessness of poetic language, capture the urgency of their voices. And Hellerstein’s book lays to rest any question of tradition; it is there: inflected by prayer as the book’s framework suggests, but also colored by difficult lives and a confidence born of their survival."—Alyssa Quint, Cleaver Magazine http://www.cleavermagazine.com/a-question-of-tradition-women-poets-in-yiddish-by-kathryn-hellerstein-reviewed-by-alyssa-quint/ _________________________________________
Poetry Translation
A "wonderful poet" "excellently translated" from Yiddish.
The New Republic
Yiddish poems from Halpern’s 1919 book in English verse translation.
Literature Anthology
The most comprehensive anthology of Jewish American Literature ever published.

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