A Rhetorical Conversation: Jewish Discourse in Modern Yiddish Literature by Jordan D. FinkinA Rhetorical Conversation: Jewish Discourse in Modern Yiddish Literature by Jordan D. Finkin

A Rhetorical Conversation: Jewish Discourse in Modern Yiddish Literature

byJordan D. Finkin

Paperback | December 23, 2015

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This book is about Jewish language. The fact that Jews speak and write in distinctive ways is well known. (The journalist Mike Royko called it “Hebonics.”) These forms of expression actually draw from many sources and have been employed in popular culture from Henry Roth’s Call It Sleep to the novels of Saul Bellow to contemporary television. What has received less attention is what allowed these modern forms to flow from a rich body of Yiddish literature. This book fills that gap by exploring the language of modern Yiddish literature, addressing emblematically why Jews answer a question with a question. Through a series of case studies, A Rhetorical Conversation explores various distinctive aspects of Yiddish literature to explain the nature and importance of Jewish discourse: the way of speaking, writing, arguing, and thinking developed by Yiddish culture based on prolonged and intimate contact with traditional texts.

Jordan D. Finkin is Cowley Lecturer in Post-Biblical Hebrew at the University of Oxford.
Title:A Rhetorical Conversation: Jewish Discourse in Modern Yiddish LiteratureFormat:PaperbackDimensions:216 pages, 9 × 6 × 0.8 inPublished:December 23, 2015Publisher:Penn State University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0271035374

ISBN - 13:9780271035376


Table of Contents




1. The Case of the Tautological Infinitive

2. The Language of Jewish Discourse

3. Jewish Discourse and Modern Yiddish Poetry

4. Conversational Orchestration in the Tsenerene and Sholem Aleykhem

5. Y. L. Perets’s Conversational Art in Yiddish and Hebrew





Editorial Reviews

“A learned, sophisticated, and smart book. Its exploration of the complex interrelationship between elite conversational discourse and its transition and transformation in the mouths, minds, and words of others is vital for a more nuanced understanding of Yiddish, its speakers, and its writers.”

—Jeremy Dauber, Columbia University