Let’s talk about the literary canon: Bernard Malamud is one of a pantheon of New York writers of Ashkenazi origin whose work contributes to a Yiddish subculture recognized worldwide. This tradition often includes elements of fabulism.
The Parisian Jewish French author whose work I translate, Cyrille Fleischman, also includes similar elements. In one short story, a literary author becomes the corned beef sandwich he has been selling. In another piece, a man becomes his son’s pet dog. Yet, few readers in France know Fleischman’s name. Likewise, Paris’s substantial Yiddish population does not have the same worldwide renown, in part because of its decimation during the Holocaust. In part because of a lack of recognition by major publishing houses, for related reasons of social power dynamics that we might discuss in class.
Whose work becomes part of an established canon?
In a fairly unrelated segue, I’d like you focus on yourself in these blog comments. What, if anything, in Malamud’s writing “speaks your language”? What elements, fabulist or otherwise, will you borrow? Set yourself some goals. Share them here.