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Section I. Individual Yiddish Literary Authors. Entries
in the first section usually bear the LC class mark PJ5129, for
Individual Yiddish Literary Authors and works of biography and
criticism about them. This section has been placed at the beginning
of the Catalogue to mirror the focus of the Collection, about
seventy percent of which is comprised of works of Yiddish literature,
mostly poetry, by individual authors.
Except for the work of established poets, publishers of Yiddish
literature tended to favour the publication of fiction, which
was more profitable. Many poets, therefore, had to publish their
own books, or did so with the aid of a group of friends, relatives
or landslayt (countrymen). When scanning the imprints in
the Fishstein Collection, one comes across an occasional tongue-in-cheek
variation of the word "alone" (aleyn) or its equivalent
in the spot usually allotted to the publisher: Farlag Aleyn
[#1005, 1264-5, 1713], Zikh aleyn [#353], Mir aleyn
[#435, 438-9], Aleynenyu [#830-1, 837, 844], Nebekhaleyn
[#881, 892]; Eygene or Eygns (close relatives) [#1089,
1298], Landslayt [#614, 1256]; or the wry Koymittsores
(with great difficulty) [#1932].
Section II. Yiddish Literary Collections. The next section,
Yiddish Literary Collections, lists the various literary collections
of the time, which contain both literature and literary criticism
- "little magazines" and other periodicals, zamlbikher (miscellanies)
and anthologies. The zamlbikher, in particular, made it
economically feasible for poets to see their work in print.
Section III. Related Yiddish Literary Endeavours. Joe Fishstein's
library reflects his interest in other Yiddish endeavours linked
to the literary world; these are grouped in Section III of the
Catalogue, Related Yiddish Literary Endeavours. They include subjects
like the Yiddish theatre, press, humour, folklore, and children's
literature. There are a number of unusual works in the Collection
on different aspects of the Yiddish theatre, often lavishly illustrated.
There are also children's books, some of which have been written
by major poets.
Section IV. Yiddish Translations of Other Literatures.
There was a demand for Yiddish translations of famous works of
world literature, as well as of Hebrew literature. These were
published both in anthologies and as separate works and are listed
in Section IV, Yiddish Translations of Other Literatures. Portraits
of many Hebrew and non-Jewish literary authors and other famous
personages are included in Joe Fishstein's personal binders and
scrapbooks, described later.
Section V. Jewish Civilization. The last section of the
Catalogue, Jewish Civilization, groups other areas of Jewish culture.
It includes topics such as Judaism and the Bible, Jewish philosophy,
history, labour unions, education, music and art.
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Jewish Studies Librarian
McGill University Libraries