Amelia Glaser, "Sholem Aleichem, Russian Literary Critic"

Presented by the Centre for European, Russian, and Eurasian Studies. Co-sponsored by the Centre for Jewish Studies.

When Sholem Rabinovich (Sholem Aleichem) began writing Yiddish fiction, he was steeped in Russian literature. With only a few Yiddish humorists on which to model his prose, he based important aspects of his persona and poetics on exemplars from the Russian canon, in particular Gogol. Sholem Aleichem, beyond encouraging a comparison between himself and Gogol, also consciously modeled elements of his writing on Turgenev, Saltykov-Schedryn and his younger contemporary Maxim Gorky. In order to understand the intimate relationship between the writer canonized as the father of Yiddish prose (particularly in Russia) and the Russian literature he read, we must examine not only what Sholem Aleichem was borrowing from his Russian models, but what he was critiquing. By considering Sholem Aleichem as a critical reader of Russian literature, we begin to glean the importance of nineteenth century Russian literature to what was, at the turn of the twentieth century, a still-nascent Yiddish canon. This talk is drawn from the recent book, Jews and Ukrainians in Russia’s Literary Borderlands: From the Shtetl Fair to the Petersburg Bookshop (Northwestern U.P., 2012).

Amelia Glaser is Associate Professor of Russian and Comparative Literature, and Chair of the Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies program at the University of California, San Diego. She is the author of Jews and Ukrainians in Russia’s Literary Borderlands: From the Shtetl Fair to the Petersburg Bookshop (Northwestern U.P., 2012), and the translator and editor of Proletpen: America’s Rebel Yiddish Poets (U. Wisconsin Press, 2005). She is spending time at the Russian, East European and Eurasian Center at UIUC as a mentor for the “Workshop in Scholarly and Literary Translation from Slavic Languages”.

Registration required.

Date & Time
Thursday, April 17, 2014 - 2:00pm

Location
Alumni Hall, Room 400, 121 St. Joseph Street