Weekly Reader: All About I. L. Peretz

It’s hard to think of a more influential figure in the history of Yiddish culture than I. L. Peretz. For his own literary and intellectual contributions he has been dubbed one of the three “classic” Yiddish writers, along with Sholem Aleichem and Mendele Mocher Sforim. Just as important, he was a tireless cultural activist whose influence and encouragement created an entire generation of Yiddish creativity. Much of this activity and activism took place within his own Warsaw apartment, which became a hub for the Jewish literati and a pilgrimage spot for younger writers. As part of our new permanent exhibition, Yiddish: A Global Culture, we’ve re-created Peretz’s salon at the heart of our book repository. We hope you can come see it, but for now, read on to learn more about Peretz and his world.

Ezra Glinter, Senior Staff Writer and Editor

Peretz at 100

peretz DSC_8107.jpg

Back in 2015, we published a special issue of Pakn Treger to commemorate Peretz’s 100th yortsayt. That issue included a wonderful essay by our head bibliographer and editorial director, David Mazower, on Peretz as man and myth. If you’re looking for an introduction to the foundational writer, this is a great place to start.

Read an essay about I. L. Peretz

Exploring the Canon

Title page of Yiddish book by I. L. Peretz

Peretz is not only one of the most beloved Yiddish authors, but also one of the most published. His work has been put out in countless editions and collections by publishers in Europe, North and South America, and beyond. While it’s not hard to get your hands on a physical set of Peretz’s works, they’re also all available in our Spielberg Digital Yiddish Library. Happy reading! 


Explore Peretz’s works online 

Listening In


As one of Yiddish literature’s most prominent figures, it’s no surprise that Peretz’s books were chosen, several times over, to be recorded as audiobooks by Montreal’s Jewish Public Library. Our Sami Rohr Library of Recorded Yiddish Books has three of them, and they include some of Peretz’s most popular works.


Listen to audiobooks by I. L. Peretz 

The Revivalist

Professor David Roskies on "Peretz the Revivalist"

Not only is there no shortage of works by Peretz, there are also plenty about him. Since his death in 1915, he has been the constant subject of both honor and analysis. In our Frances Brandt Online Yiddish Audio Library we have numerous recordings of programs held in Peretz’s honor at Montreal’s Jewish Public Library. Here is one that grabbed my attention: a 1980 lecture by Professor David Roskies on “Peretz the Revivalist” 


Listen to a lecture by David Roskies 

Hope and Fear

Aaron Lansky on Isaac Bashevis and I. L. Peretz

Speaking of recorded programs, the JPL isn’t the only organization that can produce them. Isaac Bashevis Singer was too young to have been one of Peretz’s proteges, but that doesn’t mean there was no connection between the two writers. In this lecture by Yiddish Book Center founder and president Aaron Lansky, the two great Yiddish authors are put into comparative perspective. 


Listen to a lecture by Aaron Lansky