Words on Fire: The Unfinished Story of Yiddish.

Katz, Dovid.

Published by Basic Books, 2004
ISBN 10: 0465037305 / ISBN 13: 9780465037308
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Octavo, paper covers, xvi, 430 pp., b/w drawings, index. Bookseller Inventory #

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Synopsis: Words on Fire offers a rich, engaging account of the history and evolution of the Yiddish language. Drawing on almost thirty years of scholarship, prominent Yiddish scholar Dovid Katz traces the origins of Yiddish back to the Europe of a thousand years ago, and shows how those origins are themselves an uninterrupted continuation of the previous three millennia of Jewish history and culture in the Near East. Words on Fire narrates the history of the language from medieval times onward, through its development as written literature, particularly for and by Jewish women. In the wake of secularizing and modernizing movements of the nineteenth century, Yiddish rose spectacularly in a few short years from a mass folk idiom to the language of sophisticated modern literature, theater, and journalism. Although a secular Yiddish culture no longer exists, Katz argues that its resurgence among religious Jewish communities ensures that Yiddish will still be a thriving language in the twenty-first century. For anyone interested in Jewish history and tradition, Words on Fire will be a definitive account of this remarkable language and the culture that created and sustained it.

From the Back Cover: "Dovid Katz's book on Yiddish reflects the beauty, the variety, and the warmth of a language that refuses to be extinguished. Its miraculous survival brings joy to its readers." (Elie Wiesel)

"Words On Fire is not only a great history, it's a great read. Dovid Katz writes with the precision of a scholar, and the heart of a poet." (Jonathan Safran Foer, author of Everything Is Illuminated)

"This is a book whose time has come. Dovid Katz presents the complex and international origins of Yiddish over a thousand years in a delightfully readable narrative that belies the enormous scholarship in many languages that underlies his work." (Ruth Gay, author of The Jews of Germany: A Historical Portrait and Unfinished People: Eastern European Jews Encounter America)

"I love this book. It's a treasure trove of nostalgia and a beacon of hope. It warmed my heart to read how the rich emotional Yiddish jargon became an elegant language of literature; then it broke my heart to read about the near-total destruction of Yiddish civilization, one of the great cultures of the world. This book revives hope that Yiddish will still flourish, even in a small way." (Alan Dershowitz)

"In Words on Fire, Professor Dovid Katz reaffirms his role as one of the world's leading scholars in the field of Yiddish Studies. Katz's command of Yiddish linguistics, Yiddish literature and Eastern European Jewish cultural history is unsurpassed. Words on Fire is a bold and timely book that deserves to be read not only by specialists in the field of Jewish Studies but also by anyone concerned about the future of Yiddish and Jewish culture." (Carl J. Rheins, Ph.D., Executive Director, YIVO Institute for Jewish Research)

"This amazing book is as provocative as it is profound. Written with verve and passion, it goes far beyond recycling accepted 'truths' about the Yiddish language, European Jewish civilization, and modern Jewish cultural politics. Its bold new conceptualization of the still evolving saga of Yiddish is a product of decades of inspired research, inspiring teaching and penetrating thinking of one of the most brilliant Yiddish scholars of my generation. It will stimulate further debate among scholars and laymen who are concerned with the ethos, history, and significance of Yiddish, the Ashkenazic cultural heritage, and Jewish identity in our contemporary post-modern world." (Dov-Ber Kerler, Professor of Yiddish Studies, Indiana University at Bloomington)

"In a field in which ingrained myth is regularly served up as truth, and amateurs pose as experts, this accessible history of Yiddish, written by a native speaker who is also a scholar of historical linguistics, systematically clears the debris in order to set the record straight about the past, the present, and even to offer some reasonable speculations about the future of Yiddish." (Professor Jerold Frakes, University of Southern California)

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Title: Words on Fire: The Unfinished Story of ...
Publisher: Basic Books
Publication Date: 2004
Binding: Softbound
Book Condition: Very Good

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