Isaac Bashevis Singer’s “Gimpl tam” was published on March 30, 1945, in the obscure Yiddish-language journal Idisher kempfer, about a month before the Nazi surrender. A story of bullying and the potential for revenge, it tells the deathbed confession of an orphaned baker who is targeted by his own community for ridicule and practical jokes. Gimpl has come to be seen as a symbol of the Jewish people in the diaspora, and, by synecdoche, minorities in general. Should they be passive in the face of aggression? Or should they defend themselves?
A new bilingual edition features Singer's original Yiddish alongside his own partial translation, now completed and edited by writer and scholar David Stromberg. The book also features the 1953 Saul Bellow translation which first brought the story to fame, new illustrations by Liana Finck, and an afterword by David Stromberg. Join YIVO for a discussion with Stromberg featured in conversation with David Roskies.
About the Speakers
David Stromberg is a writer, translator, and scholar whose work has appeared in The American Scholar, The Massachusetts Review, and Los Angeles Review of Books, among other publications. His recent books include Old Truths and New Clichés, an edited collection of Isaac Bashevis Singer’s essays, and a speculative nonfiction novella, A Short Inquiry into the End of the World. His follow-up essay, “The Eternal Hope of the Wandering Jew,” appears in The Hedgehog Review.
David G. Roskies is the Sol and Evelyn Henkind Chair emeritus in Yiddish Literature and Culture and a professor emeritus of Jewish literature at The Jewish Theological Seminary. He also served as the Naomi Prawer Kadar Visiting Professor of Yiddish Studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Dr. Roskies was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2012. Dr. Roskies is a cultural historian of Eastern European Jewry. A prolific author, editor, and scholar, he has published nine books and received numerous awards. In 1981, Dr. Roskies cofounded with Dr. Alan Mintz Prooftexts: A Journal of Jewish Literary History, and served for seventeen years as editor in chief of the New Yiddish Library series, published by Yale University Press. A native of Montreal, Canada, and a product of its Yiddish secular schools, Dr. Roskies was educated at Brandeis University, where he received his doctorate in 1975.
Ticket Info: Free; register at yivo.org/Simple-Gimpl