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Collected Stories Of Sholom Aleichem: Tevye's Daughters
Collected Stories Of Sholom Aleichem Tevye's Daughters Author:Sholom Aleichem (Author) Frances Butwin (Translator) Ben Shahn (Illustrator) Most of the stories were written by Sholem Aleichem in the early 1900's. They are about Tevye, the dairyman and his daughters and Jewish life in a small town in Russia. Some of the stories became the basis of "Fiddler on the Roof". The very best story is "Chava" about his daughter who marries out of the faith. It is a real tea-jerker."Modern Chi... more »ldren" and "Hodel" will also hit home, today. This book gives the reader a picture of what it was like to live in a small town in Russia, as a Jew, one hundred years ago. Sholem Aleichem writes in a clear, easy to read style, with compassion and understanding of human emotions. The translation is an excellent one. A must read for young and old even if you are not Jewish.
It's surprising how much the popular musical "Fiddler on the Roof" captured the spirit of these stories. There's the gentle humor of Tevye's persistent quoting and misquoting of scripture. There are his occasional daydreams of what it would be like to be a "rich man" - and then his return to reality and his abiding in what would doubtless be his perennial lot as a deliverer of dairy goods.
However, not all of these stories involve Tevye and his attempts to get his seven beautiful daughters well-married. Some of the short stories included in this book involve other characters who pass through the last days of small town Czarist Russia. There's the talkative man from Buenos Aires who won't reveal exactly what he deals in to his traveling companion on the train. There's a chess player who, at the mercy of either maliciousness or mistake, is imprisoned after being summoned to engage the Czar with his chess skills. There's the man with an overflowing house full of children - all of them brilliant scholars - all of them supported by the one working member of the family, a son-in-law who is a simple fish merchant.
But whether involving Tevye or others, all these stories are slice-of-life chronicles, without elaborately crafted plots, tricky twist endings, or pointed morals. They just pass unassumingly down the pathways of the reader's consciousness, leaving sepia trails of recollection, like old photographs.
In among Tevye's many dumpling extrapolations from the Talmud, there are some real well-wrapped kreplachs of wisdom. He says that the trouble begins when people start to call land "territory" - and then proceed to kill each other over possession of it. He characterizes one townsman who goes overboard denying himself in order to leave more for his children - as "a glutton for fasting." How well that describes all sorts of fanatical people who make a show of their austerity.
There's also a lot of oppressive history to be gleaned from these pages. There's the violence of pogroms, the quotas, the overriding prejudice against members of the Jewish community - all taking place before most modern Holocaust museums start their reckoning.
These stories were translated from the Yiddish. But for those words that just don't have English equivalents or that needed to stay in place to convey folk color, there's a glossary of Yiddish terms at the end of the book. At the beginning, there's an introduction telling something of what inspired Sholom Aleichem to write these tales that so poignantly recall a specific time and place - and that are yet so timeless.« less