A simple tailor, the protagonist of the great Yiddish author Sholem Aleichem’s last theatrical drama, suddenly becomes rich, but loses his money on account of an obscure cinema deal. The author’s son-in-law and assistant, Y.D. Berkowitz, insisted that the issue of moviemaking be removed from the plot. It seems he tried, among other things, to conceal his father-in-law’s “cinema obsession,” which played itself out between Moscow and New York during the final years of his short life. Until now this story of Sholem Aleichem’s “last love” remained virtually unknown because the majority of relevant documents, written in Yiddish, Russian, Hebrew, English, and other languages, as well as the author’s film scripts, have never been published. By reconstructing the picture of Sholem Aleichem’s extensive contacts with the world of cinema in Europe, Russia, and the US, this monograph throws new light on the famous writer’s life and work, on the background of the incipience of early Jewish cinematography.

"Rare is a book that reverses the laws of electronics, making a negative into a positive. Professor Ber Kotlerman of Bar-Ilan University treats the failed attempt by Sholem Aleichem to make a movie. But it is more than that. It is a study of Sholem Aleichem's relationship with Modernity, technology, and visual media. If he had lived long enough, Sholem Aleichem would have adopted other media in addition to fiction writing. This professional piece of writing should find its audience in students of Jewish literature and cinema."

-Brian Horowitz, Tulane University

"The Disenchanted Tailor is an enrapturing investigation of not only a virtually unknown moment in the career of the author commonly dubbed the 'father of modern Yiddish literature,' but a whole world of buried histories and startling associations. Ber Kotlerman's earlier In Search of Milk and Honey was a groundbreaking achievement of Yiddish arts history and critique. Here Kotlerman does it once again."

-Shelley Salamensky, University of California, Los Angeles



Dedication     5

Acknowledgement     10

 Preface by Albert Bates Lord     11

 Introduction (John Miles Foley)     15



Franz H. Bauml

 "The Theory of Oral-Formulaic Composition and the Written Medieval Text"     29

Daniel P. Biebuyck

 "Names in Nyanga Society and in Nyanga Tales     47

John W. Butcher

 "Formulaic Invention in the Genealogies of the Old English Genesis A"     73

David E. Bynum

"Of Stick and Stones and Hapax Legomena Themata"     93

Martin Camargo

"Oral Traditional Structure in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight"

Robert P. Creed

 "Beowulf on the Brink: Information Theory as Key to the Origins of the Poem"     139

Ruth H. Firestone

 "On the Similarity of Biterolf und Dietleib and Dietrich und Wenezlan"     161

John Miles Foley

"Reading the Oral Traditional Text: Aesthetics of Creation and Response"     185

Donald K. Fry

"The Cliff of Death in Old English Poetry"     213

Edward R. Haymes

"'ez wart ein buoch funden': Oral and Written in Middle High German Heroic Epic"    235

Constance B. Hieatt

"On Envelope Patterns (Ancient Greek and -Relatively- Modern) and Nonce Formulas"     245

Edward B. Irving Jr.

"What to Do with Old Kings"     259

 Elaine Lawless

"Tradition and Poetics: The Folk Sermons of Women Preachers"     269

 Albert Bates Lord

"The Nature of Oral Poetry"     313

D. Gary Miller

 Towards a New Model of Formulaic Compostion"    351

 Stephen A. Mitchell

"The Sagaman and Oral Literature: The Icelandic Traditions of Hjorleifr inn kvensami and Geirmundr heljarskinn"     395

 Michale N. Nagler

"On Almost Killing Your Friends: Some Thoughts on Violence in Early Cultures"     425

Joseph Falaky Nagy

"The Sign of the Outlaw: Multiformity in Fenian Narrative"     465

 Alexandra Hennessey Olsen

"Literary Artistry and the Oral-Formulaic Tradition: The Case of Gower's Appolinus of Tyre     493

Ward Parks

"Orality and Poetics: Synchrony, Diachrony, and the Axes of Narrative Transmission"     511

Alain Renoir

 "Repetition, Oral-Formulaic Style, and Affective Impact in Mediaeval Poetry: A Tentative Illustration"     533

Joseph A. Russo

 "Oral Style as Performance Style in Homer's Odyssey: Should We Read Homer Differently after Parry?"     549

Geoffrey R. Russom

 "Verse Translations and the Question of Literacy in Beowulf

Ruth H. Webber

"Ballad Openings in the Eropean Balad"     581

Josephine Pasternak-Ramsay & Rimgaila Salys


The Russian Poet and Philosopher Josephine Pasternak (1900–93) published two collections of verse during her lifetime, and her philosophical treatise Indefinability was brought out posthumously in 1998. Josephine belonged to a famous Moscow Family: her older brother was the poet and novelist Boris Pasternak and her father Leonid was a well-known early 20th-century painter. She left Russia in 1921 to study in Germany, married there, and subsequently emigrated to England. After the publication of Doctor Zhivago in 1957, Josephine was asked to write a history of the Pasternak family, which eventually led her to begin her own autobiography.

The memoir spans the years 1913–26 and records Josephine's transition from adolescence to young adulthood, first in pre-revolutionary Russia; then during the period of World War I and the Revolution; and finally in Germany during the early twenties. It provides a riveting picture of Russian life and personalities in the first quarter of the 20th century: Josephine describes middle-class life before the Revolution with wit and gusto, witnesses the events of 1917 in Moscow, writes humorously and irreverently about her working life in a government office, and ends with an account of her turbulent life in Berlin and Munich during the twenties.

Josephine constructs her life history as a frank exploration of her perceived failure to achieve her full potential in life, gradually uncovering the sexual and pathological origins of her later episodes of neurosis. Writing mostly during the mid-1960s, she would ever have called herself liberated, yet the autobiography emerges as a feminist text in spite of itself, centered in the tension between her genuine love for her family ad her repudiation of its control through a series of escapes: into neurosis and secret religious observances, fascinated both by the neatness and clarity of physics and mathematics, as well as under the spell of powerful superstitions and compulsions. The stress of reconciling these conflicting forces was to plague and exhaust her throughout her life. "Tightrope walking," she called it.

This memoir is a significant contribution to the study of Russian women's autobiography and, above all, a fascinating account of a remarkable young woman's life.

Henry Cooper and Ivan Mladenov


Over the centuries Bulgaria has been many things: a brilliant medieval empire (even two!), an abject, all-but-forgotten Ottoman province, a struggling kingdom, a docile satellite and now a democratic member of NATO ad a new member in the European Union as of 2007. Its writers have enormously rich material with which to work in chronicling their national life, and their instrument, which Bulgarians consider to be the oldest recorded Slavic language, is expressive enough to do so with style. Such a literature deserves to be better known. It is the hope of the editors of this anthology to contribute toward that goal. This fascicle of the four-volume Anthology of South-Slavic Literatures surveys the entire temporal, ideological, and aesthetic spectrum of Bulgarian literature, including a number of new translations designed to help the English-speaking reader appreciate this important body of literature.

Jan Perkowski


This omnibus volume collects under a single cover the entire oeuvre of writings by Jan Louis Perkowski on the vampire theme in mythology and folklore, including his three previously published monographs (Vampires, Dwarves, and Witches Among the Ontario Kashubs, 1972; Vampires of the Slavs, 1976; and The Darkling: A Treatise on Slavic Vampirism, 1989), in addition to 18 previously uncollected articles on the subject, one newly written for this volume.

As Bruce McClelland notes in his Preface to the volume, in the folklore of the Slavs, the vampire plays a specific role in a broader system of folk belief. Where in the West, the vampire is utterly monstrous, the symbol of pure evil and darkness that is nevertheless romanticized and eroticized, its moral status is more nuanced and ambiguous in the Slavic conception. Yet the ancient Slavic folkloric vampire represents the historical basis of the pop cultural vampire about which movies, television shows, and video games are still being profitably made. Some of the materials here are enormously useful because they reveal historical stages in the conception of the vampire that are quite different from what most would know about the vampire who are familiar only with the Western literary tradition. This corrective aspect of Perkowski’s Vampires, which exposes a tradition directly linked to Balkan or at any rate Slavic folklore that follows a path that is quite independent of the 19th-century literary/metaphoric notions of the vampire, has had a difficult time getting traction in popular consciousness in the West, which suggests an entrenchment of the Romantic and Gothic traditions, and a concomitant resistance to correction by legitimate ethnographic research.

Maria Bloshteyn and Alexander Galich


Alexander Galich, born Alexander Arkadievich Ginzburg in 1918 ("Galich" is a literary pseudoym he assumed in 1947), is best known as the cult author of poem-songs surreptitiosly disseminated throughout the Soviet Union in the millions as part of the magnitizdat phenomenon. Dress Rehearsal was written by Alexander Galich in 1973, only a year before his forced emigration from the Soviet Union and four years before his tragic death. Galich wrote Dress Rehearsal to reflect not only on his own life but on the psyche of his Soviet contemporaries. Although the Soviet Union had since collapsed, and its society has been almost totally transformed by the radical changes that followed, Dress Rehearsal remains more relevant than ever for anyone who wants to acquire an insight into post-Soviet mentality and into the acute identity crisis facing post-Soviet society today.