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The Worlds of Sholem Aleichem by Jeremy Dauber
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The Worlds of Sholem Aleichem

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The Worlds of Sholem Aleichem by Jeremy Dauber
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Oct 08, 2013 | ISBN 9780805242782

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    Oct 08, 2013 | ISBN 9780805242782

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“Dauber’s story rivals those told by his subject: it is a rollicking narrative of fortunes won and lost, of bouts of wanderlust and bursts of good luck followed by trails of emotional upheaval. Sholem Aleichem emerges from these pages as a far more complex character than posterity would have us believe. At the heart of this book is a thoroughgoing and ultimately successful attempt to give equal time to Sholem Rabinovich: to apprehend the man and his work as part and parcel of a modernist project rather than a throwback, to situate him against the roiling background of change rather than safely ensconced in a cocoon.”
—The New Republic

“All encompassing and sprightly written, dotted with stories that illuminate its subject. It elegantly combines the facts of Sholem Aleichem’s life with his life’s work, and will no doubt inspire readers to further explore the master humorist’s oeuvre.”
—Hadassah Magazine

“What makes Dauber’s book an ideal introduction to Sholem Aleichem is the way it judiciously places the writer at the forefront of ‘an emergent sense that Yiddish literature could and should be literary.’ Comprehensive, prodigiously researched . . . a life related in riveting detail.”

“Dauber celebrates his hero’s ups and downs—from rags to riches and back again, and then again forth—in terms that mimic the chatty narrative of . . . so many of Sholem Aleichem’s tongue-in-cheek tales of lovable rouges and fools.”
—The Wall Street Journal
“Dauber is superb at situating the writer within his literary and historical context.”
—The Atlantic
“Dauber’s excellent The Worlds of Sholem Aleichem is a biography of the day-to-day life of a writer and an examination of the meaning of his works.”

“With an eye for interesting detail, Dauber takes us year-by-year through the life of the writer who entered this world as Sholem Rabinovich. [An] engrossing biography . . . graced with an occasional glint-in-the-eye touch.”
“Dauber brings the ‘Jewish Mark Twain’ to life.”
—The New Yorker
“A must for every Jewish bookshelf, this is the definitive biography of the Yiddish writer. Dauber knows the territory, and situates the writer in a time of upheaval and transition.”
“The first comprehensive biography of the giant of Yiddish literature. . . . Beautifully written.”
—The Jewish Week

“Could it be that we are just another invention of the man who called himself Sholem Aleichem? Revealing the many worlds contained in one man, Jeremy Dauber has managed to shine a light on what it means to be us: to be a Jew in this place and this time. It’s an experience that might be almost painful if Dauber’s book weren’t so funny, sharp, profound, and utterly alive.”
—Nicole Krauss, author of The History of Love

“Sholem Aleichem’s life was as improbable and dramatic as any of his stories, and in this first comprehensive English-language biography of the greatest Yiddish writer, Jeremy Dauber marvelously brings the adventure to life.  If you want to learn how European Jews first entered, laughing, into the horror and majesty of modern life, start here.”
—Dara Horn, author of The World to Come and A Guide for the Perplexed
“Two hundred thousand people turned out for Sholem Aleichem’s funeral in 1916.  He was the most beloved writer the Jewish world had ever known, yet somehow it’s taken almost one hundred years for a proper biography to finally appear. Fortunately, Jeremy Dauber’s account was worth waiting for.  The Worlds of Sholem Aleichem is original, comprehensive, insightful, and riveting.  We all owe Dauber an enormous debt of gratitude.”
—Aaron Lansky, president, Yiddish Book Center and author of Outwitting History: The Amazing Adventures of a Man Who Rescued a Million Yiddish Books

“Dauber brings to his task a comprehensive knowledge not only of Sholem Aleichem’s life but also of the contexts—historical and literary—in which he wrote and thrived. His prose is swift, clean, and clear, and the portrait that emerges is sharply focused.”
Kirkus Reviews (starred)
“Sholem Aleichem invented Tevye and his daughters, but if you think Fiddler on the Roof is the only reason we should remember him, just wait until you read The Worlds of Sholem Aleichem. In a warm and witty style suited to his subject, Dauber tells the story of the writer known as the ‘Yiddish Mark Twain’ and shows why Sholem Aleichem is one of the most important figures in modern Jewish culture. His story encompasses riches and poverty, revolution and emigration, Russia and America, literature and theater and journalism—­all the opportunities and pressures of Jewish life in the modern world. This is the major biography Sholem Aleichem deserves.”
—Adam Kirsch, author of Why Trilling Matters

Table Of Contents

Overture: In Which We Set the Stage
Act I. The Youth
1. In Which We Begin Near the Very End (1915–1859)
2. In Which Our Hero Is Born, Spends His Early Years, and Faces Personal Tragedy (1859–1872)
3. In Which Our Hero Gets—and Gives—an Education (1872–1877)
4. In Which Our Hero Suffers the Ecstasies and Agonies of Love (1877–1880)
5. In Which Our Hero Finds the Two Loves of His Life (1881–1884)
Act II. The Man of Business
6. In Which Our Hero Gains a Fortune, and an Enemy (1884–1887)
7. In Which Our Hero Publishes a Trial, and Endures the Trials of Publishing (1888)
8. In Which Our Hero, Writing About an Artist, Becomes One (1888)
9. In Which Our Hero Loves His People, Mourns His Father, and Dreams of Zion (1888–1890)
10. In Which Our Hero Loses His Fortune and Gains His First Great Character (1890–1894)
11. In Which Our Hero Meets a Dairyman (1894)
Act III. The Spokesman
12. In Which Our Hero Returns to Zion and Other Old Preoccupations (1895–1899)
13. In Which Our Hero Reads the Newspapers in Yiddish and
Becomes a Media Star (1899–1903)
14. In Which Our Hero Spends the Holidays with Us, Visits a Town He Has Created, and Fails to Get a Word in Edgewise
15. In Which Our Hero Confronts Pogroms and Politics
16. In Which Our Hero Gets Caught Up in Someone Else’s Solution (1902–1905)
17. In Which Our Hero Suffers a Revolution and Makes a Decision (1905)
Act IV. The Wanderer
18. In Which Our Hero Takes Longer Than He Thought (1905–1906)
19. In Which Our Hero Enters, and Exits, a New Stage (1906–1907)
20. In Which Our Hero Has Joyous Meetings and Tragic Partings, and Seeks a Buried Treasure (1907–1908)
21. In Which Our Hero Falls Ill (1908)
22. In Which Our Hero Rides the Rails, and Returns to the Stage (1909)
23. In Which Our Hero Looks Backward (1909–1911)
24. In Which Our Hero Fights Back Against Libels of a Frivolous and Tragic Nature, and Encounters His Alternate Selves (1911–1913)
25. In Which Our Hero Adapts (1913–1914)
Act V. The Old Man
26. In Which Our Hero Sees War and Warsaw (1914)
27. In Which Our Hero Makes His Farewells to His Vanished World, and Feels the Pain of Children (1914–1916)
28. In Which Our Hero’s Story Comes to an End, and a Beginning (1915–1916)
Epilogue: An Afterlife in Ten Scenes
Scene 1. New York/Washington, 1916
Scene 2. New York/London, 1912–1922
Scene 3. The Soviet Union, 1921–1929
Scene 4. New York, 1917–1939
Scene 5. Vilna, 1942
Scene 6. New York, 1943
Scene 7. New York, 1949–1959
Scene 8. New York, 1962–1964
Scene 9. Everywhere, 1964–2005
Scene 10. The Cloud, 2013
Bibliographical Notes

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