Preface / Ruth R. Wisse
Introduction / Goldie Sigal
The Collection
Historical Background
Joe Fishtein and his Milieu
The Yiddish Language
Soviet Orthography
The Flowering of Yiddish Literature
The Catalogue
The Indices
Archival Items in the Collection
Technical Aspects
Table of Name Equivalents

The Catalogue Entries
Search the Catalogue
Browse by Topic
Browse by Index
(Author, Title, Illustrator, Periodical, Series)


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The Catalogue

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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Goldie Sigal
Jewish Studies Librarian
McGill University Libraries