Poyln: My Life within Jewish Life in Poland, Sketches and Images
Published: April 2016© 2007
Imprint: University of Toronto Press
Page Count: 182 Pages
Dimensions: 6.00 x 9.00
182 Pages, 6.00 x 9.00 x 0.60 in
Originally published between 1944 and 1953, Poyln (Poland) is one of the treasures of Yiddish literature. Despite its reputation, the book has not been fully translated into English until now. Written by Yehiel Yeshaia Trunk, a prominent Polish Jewish writer, Poyln is a colourful epic, a moving testimony, and an important primary historical source that presents a portrait of Polish Jewry against the backdrop of the Nazi genocide.
The undisputed hero of the story is the national community of Polish Jews. To portray this community, Trunk creates a rich gallery of characters - Hassidic patricians, timber merchants, rich landowners, brilliant Talmudists, Orthodox rabbis, and Hasidic tsadikim. He also depicts ordinary village and small-town Jews, artisans, shopkeepers, workers, and Luftmenschen, all of them members of one extended family. Particularly valuable aspects of Poyln are its examination of different trends in the Hasidic movement and the author's attempt to bridge the gap between his secular generation and its religious ancestors. In short, Trunk's work aims to show Jewishness as a way of life.
This is the first instalment of a multi-volume edition of Poyln, the first English translation to be published. Here begins a story of the beauty and pathos of the world of Polish Jewry, a world that was almost totally destroyed by the Nazis.
‘The editors of Poyln: My Life within Jewish Life in Poland have produced a volume both accessible and original in its approach … the value of the memoirs lie primarily in their portraits of the Jewish elite – of the grimy, sexual, foul-smelling realities of everyday life in the nineteenth century.’Yedida Kanfer, Canadian Slavonic Papers
‘Trunk’s evocative sketches of pre-war Poland throb with emotion and are redolent of the bygone epoch, destroyed by the Nazis.’Sheldon Kirshner, Canadian Jewish News
‘Poyln is Yehiel Yeshaia Trunk’s classic account of Jewish life in Poland during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. This English translation, the first to appear, is sure to obtain a wide readership and make known this important piece of Yiddish literature. The translation itself is fluent, capturing the spirit of the original, and all the religious references and Polish places described in the text have been fully annotated.’Antony Polonsky, Albert Abramson Professor of Holocaust Studies, Brandeis University, and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum