Getlekhe un nisht getlekhe mayses: The Mayse-bukh and Its Readership

  • Rosenzweig C
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This article demonstrates how Yiddish books (in particular, collections of tales), in the era of the manuscript as well as the print age, were intended for all readers - men, women and children. They were intended for a reading public that enjoyed both ``godly{''} and ``ungodly{''} stories in equal measure, at the same time and even in the same book. This point is illustrated first with reference to two 16th-century manuscripts that include a spectrum of genres, from rewritings of Hebrew sources to German folktales, and then expanded through an analysis of the Mayse-bukh, which contains not only stories based on talmudic aggadot and narratives focused on German Pietists, but also a miscellany of adventure tales taken from a variety of European sources (with and without morals), resembling in structure the Italian Novellino. First printed in 1602, the Mayse-bukh was presented by its editor as appropriate and improving reading for everyone.




Rosenzweig, C. (2019). Getlekhe un nisht getlekhe mayses: The Mayse-bukh and Its Readership. Jewish Studies Quarterly, 26(3), 203.

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