Wexler Oral History Project

A growing collection of in-depth interviews with people of all ages and backgrounds, whose stories about the legacy and changing nature of Yiddish language and culture offer a rich and complex chronicle of Jewish identity.

Modernism and the Yiddish Picaresque Novel

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  • Miriam Udel, assistant professor of German Studies and Jewish Studies at Emory University, speaks about her work involving modernism and the evolution of the novel. She suggests that modernist literature -- and, in particular, Yiddish modernist literature -- can be characterized as a sort of revival of the picaresque, a literary form from sixteenth-century Spain that involves a non-linear first-person narration from a marginalized speaker. This form, she explains, "was the perfect vehicle for talking about the modern Jewish condition" in the "essentially chaotic society" of Europe.

This is an excerpt from an oral history with Miriam Udel.

This excerpt is in English.

Miriam Udel was born in Pittsfield, Massachusetts in 1976.

About the Wexler Oral History Project

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Since 2010, the Yiddish Book Center’s Wexler Oral History Project has recorded more than 500 in-depth video interviews that provide a deeper understanding of the Jewish experience and the legacy and changing nature of Yiddish language and culture.

Tell Us Your Story

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Do you (or someone you know) have stories to share about the importance of Yiddish language and culture in your life?