Saul Noam Zaritt speaks about Jewish American literature, its place in world literature, and what this tells us about how we understand modern Jewish history and culture at large. It’s the focus of his recent book, Jewish American Writing and World Literature: Maybe to Millions, Maybe to Nobody, where he explores a number of Jewish writers who were working in Yiddish or in translation, including Isaac Bashevis Singer, Sholem Asch, Jacob Glatstein, Saul Bellow, and others, and what their work tells us about the transformation of modern Jewish culture. In addition, we’ll talk about what this all means when we think about modern Jewish studies and how we understand it in its broader cultural context.
Saul Noam Zaritt is an Associate Professor of Yiddish Literature at Harvard University. He studies the politics of translation in modern Jewish culture and he is a founding editor of In geveb: A Journal of Yiddish Studies. His book, Jewish American Writing and World Literature: Maybe to Millions, Maybe to Nobody, which is the center of our conversation today, was published in 2020. He is currently at work on a second book, entitled “A Taytsh Manifesto: Yiddish, Translation, and the Making of Modern Jewish Culture.”