Published in New York in 1899, and authored by Leo Wiener, a polyglot immigrant who was teaching at Harvard. As he wrote in his introduction, at the time he began preparing for the work he’d already assembled a personal collection of several hundred Yiddish volumes. This was supplemented by a research trip to Europe.
During his trip Wiener bought many volumes from bookstores in Warsaw and Krakow. In Warsaw and Bialystok he met and spoke to a number of authors including Peretz, Dinezon, Spector, and Gottlober. In Kiev he met Mendele Mocher Sforim, and in Odessa he met Sholem Aleichem, Linetzky and others. All of the collecting and discussing resulted in a lengthy bibliography of authors, newspapers, almanacs and songbooks. Wiener devoted chapters to brief descriptions of the Yiddish language and the first works printed in Yiddish that were known to him, printed in German lands in the early 1500s. He covered the decline of Yiddish in German lands as German Jews assimilated from the late 1700s, and the persistence of Yiddish in Eastern Europe and briefly discussed folklore, folk-song, popular poetry, and poetry, fiction and drama in Eastern Europe and the United States.
This book has been considered by academicians and scholars of great significance and value to literature. This forms a part of the knowledge base for future generations.
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