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Judaica] Korman, Ezra, ed.

Yidishe Dikhteris: Antologye [Yiddish Women Poets: Anthology].


A History Of The Jewish Theatre
Deluxe Yiddish Women Poets Collection From 1928
[Judaica]. Korman, Ezra, editor. Yidishe Dikhteris: Antologye [Yiddish Women Poets: Anthology. Collected, Arranged, and Published with a Foreword, Bibliographic Notes, and Photographs of the Poets]. Chicago: L. M. Stein, 1928.
Thick 8vo.; mostly unopened; lavish woodcut illustrations, tipped-in photographs of the authors, and facsimiles of important title pages throughout; dark blue pebbled cloth, stamped in gilt; fine. Housed in a specially made quarter-morocco slipcase.
First edition of the first collection of Yiddish poetry by women; 1500 copies, the entire edition. Although a handful of copies can be located in research institutions (ten, according to the NUC), copies in commerce are painfully uncommon. The very first anthology of its kind, a chronologically ordered collection of poems by seventy women who published between 1586 and 1927. Published and edited by Ezra Korman, a teacher and literary critic from Detroit.
Until recently, there has been almost no treatment of female Yiddish poets. Women were included sporadically, if at all, in Yiddish literary anthologies, an ironic state of affairs considering that more women expressed themselves in Yiddish than in Hebrew, which was taught only to men. In a thoughtful essay Risa Domb comments on the dilemma faced by many early 20th-century Jewish women authors:
...Hebrew, which has been used by the Jews since biblical times, over a period of some 3,000 years, was adopted as the means of creating the new Enlightened Jewish culture. Thus Jews established a new relationship between modern culture and the Jewish past. Women, however, could not participate in the new literary activity. They could give vent to their poetic talents either in Yiddish, their spoken language, or in Russian, but not in Hebrew...
Whilst Yiddish writing did not insist on a national element as a required poetic form, Hebrew poetry did....There were no women writing [Hebrew] poetry during this period. The leading male poets of the time, H.N. Bialik (1873-1934) and S. Tchernichovsky (1875-1943) set the ideological dictum which insisted on the association of the collective experience with the private, of the nation with the individual. Since women did not take part in public life or in the initial stages of the Hebrew revival, they could not respond to these poetic demands. Only when the poetic ideals of Bialik's generation were challenged by the new generation of writers of the 1920s did women's poetry come into its own..." ( "Israel," by Risa Domb, in BGWL, pp. 217-20)
Korman's anthology prints the work of four women whom Howe, Wisse and Shmeruk would include sixty years later in The Penguin Book of Modern Yiddish Verse: Kadia Molodowsky (who explored women's themes), Anna Margolin, Rachel Korn, and Celia Dropkin (who pioneered eroticism in Yiddish poetry). With its tipped-in photographs and illustrations of many of the poets, its biographies, and its 232-title bibliography, Korman's elegant project remains today an invaluable resource for feminist scholars and Yiddish readers.

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