"The World According to Itzik" by Itzik Manger

The World According to Itzik Selected Poetry and Prose Itzik Manger, Leonard Wolf

New Yiddish Library Series
Publication date:
09 Jun 2015
Yale University Press
304 pages: 210 x 140mm
Sales territories:

In the years between 1929 and 1939, when Itzik Manger wrote most of the poetry and fiction that made him famous, his name among Yiddish readers was a household word. Called the Shelley of Yiddish, he was characterized as being “drunk with talent.” This book—the first full-length anthology of Manger’s work—displays the full range of his genius in poetry, fiction, and criticism.

The book begins with an extensive historical, biographical, and literary-critical introduction to Manger’s work. There are then excerpts from a novel, The Book of Paradise, three short stories, autobiographical essays, critical essays, and finally, Manger’s magnificent poetry—ballads, bible poems, personal lyrics, and the Megilla Songs. These works, which have the patina of myths acquired ages ago, also offer modern psychological insight and irrepressible humor. With Manger we make the leap into the Jewish twentieth century, as he recreates the past in all its layered expressiveness and interprets it with modernist sensibilities.

Leonard Wolf is a distinguished novelist and translator of Yiddish books, short stories, and poetry. He has taught courses in New York University’s School of Continuing Education since his retirement from San Francisco State University.

"Itzik Manger was one of the handful of extraordinary Yiddish poets of the 20th century. There is a quality of hallucinatory intensity in Manger, which is very difficult to duplicate."—Harold Bloom, author of Genius: A Mosaic of 100 Exemplary Creative Minds

“Manger’s deceptively folkish style, which mixes fantasy and autobiography, Biblical plots and a fin-de-siècle East European setting, pathos and parody, angels’ wings and social protest, the lyric and dramatic, has been brilliantly rendered into English by Leonard Wolf.”—Ruth R. Wisse