Friday, January 30, 2009

A New Translation of Shalom Aleichem's "Wandering Stars'

This year marks the 150th anniversary of the birth of Sholom Aleichem.

The Ann Arbor-based translator and author Aliza Shevrin, who has also done eight other Aleichem novels from Yiddish, said in an interview that hers is the first complete English version of "Wandering Stars" - a different translator in 1952 abridged the text and gave it a happy ending completely different from the Yiddish original. Shevrin's fluid translation captures the idiomatic richness of the original Yiddish and brings Aleichem's vanished culture to vibrant life.

Sholem Aleichem is the pen name of Sholem Rabinovitch (1859–1916), the most beloved writer in Yiddish literature, whose most famous work is "The Fiddler on the Roof". Born in Pereyaslev, Ukraine, one of nine children in a poverty-stricken Jewish family, complete with an evil stepmother, Sholom Rabinovitch (the writer’s real name) fled the pogroms and immigrated to New York in 1905. At 16, he took a job tutoring the daughter of a wealthy Jewish businessman. He promptly fell in love with his 13-year-old student. After several years the two eloped, to the businessman’s despair. But shortly after reconciling, his father-in-law died and left Rabinovitch, already the author of several stories under his pen name, a vast fortune.

In Wandering Stars, Reisel, daughter of a poor cantor, and Leibel, son of a rich man, fall under the spell of a traveling Yiddish acting company. Together they run off to join the theater but quickly become separated. Reisel goes on to become Rosa Spivak, concert star, and Leibel becomes Leo Rafalesko, theatrical sensation. Kept apart by their own successes and by the managers who exploit their talent, they tour the world until their wanderings bring them both to New York. An engrossing romance, a great New York story, and an anthem for the theater, Wandering Stars is a long-lost literary classic, rediscovered here in a vibrant new translation.

The new translation will be published in May 2009.

Read more here

There is an excpert from the new translation here .

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