Working with Biblical themes
Manger's Itzik's Midrash
and Songs of the Megillah
deserve special mention, as they represent his first attempts to re-write old, familiar material through a modernist lens. In Itzik's Midrash
, Manger presents a modern commentary on the classic Bible stories by anachronistically placing his characters in contemporary Eastern Europe. Manger's playful attitude towards the original text is self-evident; in the introduction he writes, "As I wrote this book, the rogue's cap of the Yiddish Purim play hovered always before my eyes." Inspired by the Purimshpiel
genre, which used a traditional story to mock the norms and expectations of Jewish religious life in previous centuries, Manger's Midrash radically revises traditional portrayals of Biblical characters by requiring them to justify their actions according to modern norms and values. Traditionally valued characters such as Abraham and Sarah are harshly critiqued, while under-represented characters like Hagar and Ishmael are given a voice at last.
In Songs of the Megillah
, Manger uses a similar technique to politicise and de-sacralize the Biblical text read aloud on Purim. Once again, Manger's introduction classifies the book as "a kind of mischief-making on the model of Purim players in every age." Like Itzik's Midrash
, Songs of the Megillah
is a modern, radical retelling of the story of Esther set in contemporary Eastern Europe. Manger even introduces a new character into the narrative: Fastrigosso, Esther's jilted lover and a member of the Needles and Thread Tailors' Union, who conspires to assassinate King Ahashverosh to win back Esther's affections. Combined with his 1937 play Hotzmakh's Shpiel
, these three revival texts secured Manger his international reputation as "the master recloaker of the oldest and the newest literary traditions."
From Warsaw to Tel Aviv
With widespread anti-Semitism in the highest levels of Polish government and society, Jewish life in Warsaw became increasingly dire. Manger decided to leave for Paris in 1938, an exile from his creative homeland. However, Paris was not safe for long. In 1940, Manger fled to Marseilles, Tunis, Liverpool, and finally London, where he became a British citizen and remained unhappily for the next eleven years. Disillusioned and unproductive, Manger immigrated to Israel in 1958, where he remained until his death in Gedera in 1969.
Acclaim in Israel and elsewhere
Unlike most other exiled Yiddish writers, Manger was able to achieve significant success in Israeli literary and theatrical circles. In 1965, Dov Seltzer directed a highly popular production of Manger's Songs of the Megillah
, breaking the Israeli taboo on Yiddish theatre. Songs of the Megillah
was a great success, setting a new record in Israeli theatre with its more than 400 performances. Prominent members of Israeli society, including politicians Levi Eshkol, Golda Meir, and Teddy Kollek, made highly publicised appearances at the performances. When he died in 1969, Manger was mourned as an Israeli national poet.
Romanian Jewish playwright Israil Bercovici adapted a collection of Manger's poems into a two-act stage piece, Mangheriada
, which premiered 6 April 1968 at the Romanian State Jewish Theater in Bucharest.
Manger's poem "Oyfn veg shteyt a boym" has been set to music and has entered the repertoire of Yiddish song, for example as "Oif'n Weg Steht A Boim" it was a 1951 hit for Leo Fuld.
El contenido de este artículo ha sido extraído de la Wikipedia en inglés bajo licencia Creative Commons.
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