Jacob Glatstein (Yiddish: יעקב גלאטשטיין, 20 August 1896 – 19 November 1971) was a Polish-born American poet and literary critic who wrote in the Yiddish language.[1] His name is also spelled Yankev Glatshteyn or Jacob Glatshteyn.

Early life Edit

Glatstein was born in Lublin, Poland at a time when Jews made up 51% of the city's population.[2][3] Although his family identified with the Jewish Enlightenment movement, he received a traditional education until the age of 16, supplemented by private education in secular subjects, and an introduction to modern Yiddish literature.[3] By age 13, he was already writing and traveled to Warsaw to share his work with celebrated Yiddish writers such as I. L. Peretz.[3] In 1914, due to increasing antisemitism in Lublin, he immigrated to New York City, where his uncle lived.[4] In the same year, his first story was published in an American Yiddish weekly publication.[3] He worked in sweatshops while studying English. He started to study law at New York University in 1918, where he met the young Yiddish poet N. B. Minkoff, but later dropped out.[5] He worked briefly at teaching before switching to journalism. He married Netti Bush in 1919. His second marriage was to Fanny Mazel, with whom he had two sons and a daughter.[6]

Career Edit

In 1920, together with Aaron Glanz-Leyles (1889–1966) and Minkoff (1898–1958), Glatstein established the Inzikhist (Introspectivist) literary movement and founded the literary organ In Sich.[7] The Inzikhist credo rejected metered verse and declared that non-Jewish themes were a valid topic for Yiddish poetry. His books of poetry include Jacob Glatshteyn (1921) and A Jew from Lublin (1966). Glatstein's first book, titled under his own name, established him as the most daring and experimental of Yiddish poets in terms of form and style, as well as highly skillful in verbal manipulation of free verse poetry. He was also a regular contributor to the New York Yiddish daily Morgen-Zhurnal and the Yiddisher Kemfer in which he published a weekly column entitled "In Tokh Genumen" (The Heart of the Matter).[6] He was also the director of Yiddish public relations for the American Jewish Congress.[6]

Glatstein was interested in exotic themes, and in poems that emphasized the sound of words. He traveled to Lublin in 1934 to attend his mother's funeral and this trip gave him insight into the growing possibility of war in Europe.[4] After this trip, his writings returned to Jewish themes and he wrote pre-Holocaust works that eerily foreshadowed coming events. After the Second World War, he became known for passionate poems written in response to the Holocaust, but many of his poems also evoke golden memories and thoughts about eternity.

Glatstein died on November 19, 1971, in New York City.[6]

Awards Edit

He won acclaim as an outstanding figure of mid-20th-century American Yiddish literature only later in life, winning the Louis Lamed Prize in 1940 for his works of prose, and again in 1956 for a volume of collected poems titled From All My Toil. In 1966, he won the H. Leivick Yiddish literary award from the Congress for Jewish Culture.[8]

Legacy Edit

Glatstein was memorialized in Cynthia Ozick's short story Envy.[9]

Selected works Edit

  • Jacob Glatshteyn, book of poems in Yiddish, 1921;[3]
  • Free Verse (Fraye jerzn, 1926);
  • Kredos (Credos, New York, 1929) poems;
  • Di purim-gvardye (The Purim Guard, 1931), a play;
  • Yidishtaytshn (Yiddish meanings, 1937), poems;
  • When Yash Set Out (Venn Yash Is Gefuhrn, 1938) resulted from his 1934 trip to Lublin;
  • Homecoming at Twilight (Venn Yash Is Gekumen, 1940),[4] another work reflecting his 1934 trip to Lublin;
  • Emil un Karl, a book published in 1940 and written for children. The book is about two boys in pre-World War II Vienna: Karl, a Christian from a Socialist family, and his friend Emil, a Jew. Glatstein wanted children to understand the changes taking place in Europe, where Vienna was no longer the same Vienna ("vienn is shoyn nisht di aygene vienn fun amol").;
  • Gedenklider (Poems of Remembrance, 1943);
  • Shtralndike yidn (Jubilant Jews, 1946), poems;
  • The Joy of the Yiddish Word (Die Freid fun Yiddishen Vort, 1961); and
  • A Jew of Lublin (A Yid fun Lublin, 1966)
  • The Selected Poems of Jacob Glatstein (October House, 1973); translated from the Yiddish and with an Introduction by Ruth Whitman

References Edit

  1. ^ Hadda, Janet (1981). "German and Yiddish in the Poetry of Jacob Glatstein". Prooftexts. 1 (2): 192–200. ISSN 0272-9601. JSTOR 20689002.
  2. ^ Mantovan, Daniela; Glatstein, Jacob (1995). "Jacob Glatstein (1896-1971)". La Rassegna Mensile di Israel (in Spanish). 61 (2/3): 215–219. ISSN 0033-9792. JSTOR 41263530.
  3. ^ a b c d e Lapin, Shmuel (1972). "Jacob Glatstein: Poetry and Peoplehood". The American Jewish Year Book. 73: 611–617. ISSN 0065-8987. JSTOR 23603486.
  4. ^ a b c Horn, Dara (13 November 2017). "The Magic Mountain of Yiddish". Tablet Magazine. Retrieved 2 June 2023.
  5. ^ Horn, Dara (2011). "Jacob Glatstein's Prophecy". Jewish Review of Books. Retrieved 2023-06-02.
  6. ^ a b c d "JACOB GLATSTEIN, YIDDISHWRITER,75". The New York Times. 1971-11-20. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2023-06-02.
  7. ^ "Jacob Glatstein | American author and literary critic | Britannica". www.britannica.com. Retrieved 2023-06-02.
  8. ^ "Jacob Glatstein Is Winner Of Yiddish Literary Prize". The New York Times. 1966-10-27. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2023-06-02.
  9. ^ Zaritt, Saul Noam (2020-10-13). A World Literature To-Come: Jacob Glatstein's Vernacular Modernism. pp. 67–98. doi:10.1093/oso/9780198863717.003.0003. ISBN 978-0-19-886371-7. Retrieved 2023-06-02. {{cite book}}: |work= ignored (help)

Further reading Edit

External links Edit