By Naomi Seidman
With remarkably unique formulations, Naomi Seidman examines the ways in which Hebrew, the Holy Tongue, and Yiddish, the vernacular language of Ashkenazic Jews, got here to symbolize the masculine and female faces, respectively, of Ashkenazic Jewish tradition. Her subtle historical past is the 1st book-length exploration of the sexual politics underlying the "marriage" of Hebrew and Yiddish, and it has profound implications for realizing the centrality of language offerings and ideologies within the development of recent Jewish id. Seidman relatively examines this sexual-linguistic procedure because it formed the paintings of 2 bilingual authors, S.Y. Abramovitsh, the "grand-father" of contemporary Hebrew and Yiddish literature; and Dvora Baron, the 1st glossy lady author in Hebrew (and a author in Yiddish as well). She additionally offers an research of the jobs that Hebrew "masculinity" and Yiddish "femininity" performed within the Hebrew-Yiddish language wars, the divorce that eventually ended the wedding among the languages.
Theorists have lengthy debated the function of mom and dad within the child's courting to language. Seidman offers the Ashkenazic case as an illuminating instance of a society during which "mother tongue" and "father tongue" are in actual fact differentiated. Her paintings speaks to special matters in modern scholarship, together with the psychoanalysis of language acquisition, the feminist critique of Zionism, and the nexus of women's reviews and Yiddish literary heritage.
Read or Download A Marriage Made in Heaven: The Sexual Politics of Hebrew and Yiddish (Contraversions: Critical Studies in Jewish Literature, Culture, and Society) PDF
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Additional info for A Marriage Made in Heaven: The Sexual Politics of Hebrew and Yiddish (Contraversions: Critical Studies in Jewish Literature, Culture, and Society)
It might be useful here to pay a final visit to Sholem Aleichem's gravestone and read again his affectionately rueful identification with yidish-taytsh and its traditional audience. The gravestone should be ample enough warning against seeking a simple solution to the question of where and when Yiddish and its female audience broke off their long-established relations: among its other double messages, Sholem Aleichem's epitaph reveals the inextricability of a proud, fearless ownership and an ironic repudiation of Yiddish literary history, the simultaneously increasing and diminishing power of Yiddish ties with its female audience.
As Abramovitsh is said to have commented to the critic Yosef Klausner, "a writer-artist wants to be petted by a seventeen-yearold girl; and seventeen-year-old girls who read Hebrew were non-existent then. " 30 Moreover, as Iris Parush has shown, the expansion of Hebrew audiences to include women was considered necessary for improving Hebrew as a literary language: "The desire to address women readers . was also Copyrighted material Engendering Audiences I 27 the desire to alter the character, taste, and expectations of the Hebrewreading public and to animate it with a broader range of feeling ....
8 The passage bears only a superficial resemblance to the heterosexual romantic conventions ubiquitous in maskilic tributes to the personified Hebrew language. Invoking "all the admonitions of the writer of Proverbs against sexual relations with non-Jewish women," 9 Abramovitsh depicts Yiddish writing as an act as solitary and shameful as visiting a prostitute. The romance between a writer-lover and the valorized, beautiful, and worthy (if shamefully neglected) Hebrew language affirms his heroism and masculinity; by contrast, there is nothing redeeming about the Yiddish writer's sordid interest in Yiddish.