Exile as Home
The Cosmopolitan Poetics of Leyb Naydus
Leyb Naydus (1890-1918) expanded the possibilities of Yiddish poetry via his rich cosmopolitan works, introducing a wealth of themes and forms seldom seen in that language, including some of its first sonnets of literary merit. A devotee of European Symbolism, Nayduss poems shimmer with his love of nature, especially that of his native Lithuania. His ground-breaking poetry explores classicism, exoticism, eroticism, Orientalism, and Judaism with equal verve. Nayduss work adds to our understanding of the creation of a major literature in a minor language. Indeed, this book shows how the poetics of minor-language literatures innovate simultaneously from within and without, and how those interactions can offer even greater creative possibilities than the major-language literatures with which they were in conversation. Nayduss unique body of work not only expanded the repertoire of Yiddish poetry, but also cemented Yiddishs place on the world literary stage, convincing young Yiddish writers that this was a language that could fulfill their artistic aspirations. Literary critic Naftoli Vaynigs lengthy essay on Naydus, written in 1943 in the Vilne Ghetto, makes a remarkable case for why the poems of this cosmopolitan aesthete, who died so tragically young, should serve as a fitting emblem for a culture threatened with extinction. Finkins Exile as Home, published here with a translation of Vaynigs essay, Naydus Studies, extends that argument.
Acknowledgments Jordan D. Finkin, Exile as Home: The Cosmopolitan Poetics of Leyb Naydus INTRODUCTION: Leyb Naydus - Yiddish Argonaut 1. Diaspora Internationalism 2. Judeomorphism 3. "Full of Gold and Perfume": Naydus and the Sonnet 4. Eastward Ho!: Nayduss Exoticism and Orientalism 5. Conclusion Naftoli Vaynig, Naydus Studies Bibliography Index