In the Jewish community Sholem (Rabinovich) Aleichem is considered a classic. His character, Tevye the Dairyman, is the very same character we encounter in that wonderful musical “Fiddler on the Roof.” It is this group of stories by Sholem Aleichem on which the musical play is based.
I have enjoyed the music and the play, Fiddler on the Roof, for years. It just recently occurred to me that this great tale immortalized in the play must have had an author. I then discovered Sholem Aleichem.
Sholem Aleichem is a pseudonym used by the author to protect himself and his job as “crown rabbi,” a state appointed clerical position for a Jewish community in the Russian Ukraine. In Yiddish it translates to “Hello There.”
I must say that the story of Tevye the Dairyman and his wife and daughters may be the most impressive bit of fiction story writing that I have ever read. I have been trying to think of some great American writers to compare this man to, but no one comes to mind. This author stands out as a one of a kind.
The manner in which the author presents hope and despair simultaneously is only equaled by his ability to provoke laugher and tears also simultaneously.
I suppose some might be turned off by the “ethnic” nature of the stories but the stories were, in fact, written originally in Yiddish and were directed to a Jewish audience. Only via the efforts of the translator, Hillel Halkin, are we, the general audience, provided the privilege of enjoying this joyous celebration of the tragedy of life – in specific, the quite unique life of the historical Jewish community.
The “Jewish Experience,” as it is often called, is an unfortunate experience that is mimicked over and over for every generation of Jew and millions of non-Jew around the world. It is, of course, the all too familiar story of bigotry, prejudice, persecution and perseverance.
How the author incorporates, God, religion, politics, wealth, poverty and the day to day trials and tribulations of the everyday existence of a poor, struggling family man is an accomplishment certainly deserving of classical praise. All this and it is very, very funny too. Writers around the world dream of having this capacity. This kind of writing is what writing is all about. Enough said.
This is two books in one. In “The Railroad Stories” we go from the sublime to the prejudice. We leave the wonderful universal character of Tevye and we go commuting on the railroad. These stories display openly every imaginable type of prejudice existing at the time. Every main character is a “Jew.” There are tall Jews, short Jew, pompous ass Jews, well-off Jews … Jew after Jew after Jew. But then, of course, this is a book written by a Jew in Yiddish for consumption by other Jews. But I doubt that in today’s world this attitude would be considered acceptable even within the Jewish community.
We see the stereotypical conniving, manipulative male Jewish character, and their overbearing and demanding wives – often referred to as “cows,” their obnoxious children, useless relatives and so on. We are continually faced with the dumb goy, the brick-headed Russian, and the obnoxious, hypocritical Christians.
But if the modern, reader can get past all of this and understand the history of it all, it becomes a cleaver study in the evolution of divergent cultures.
The narrator introduces the reader to each new train car passenger and then the passenger narrates his tale. Difficult for an editor to punctuate but easy to read.
Being my age, I associate the style and attitude of each narrator with older stand-up Jewish comedians like Alan King and then Molly Goldberg. But Alan and Molly are ethnic but universal. They are heavy on style or even sarcasm but avoid the roughness of Sholem Aleichem in these railroad tales.
Many of the stories are truly hilarious – but there is always that underriding crudeness and bigotry. I don’t know what the younger audience would think of these type stories today. I’m left with very mixed emotions.
Tevye the Dairyman I give five stars. I would give it more if there were more available to award. The Railroad Stories get only three stars. I liked them but … but they are difficult. Clearly the other is attempting to bond with the Jew of his era and local. The bonding is obvious and the author makes his case clear in the last story. This is a book directed at “third class” Jews.
Books by Richard Edward Noble. Click on covers below for more info and purchasing instructions.
Classic Tragic Novel
Don't Laugh - This Could Have Been Your Life
Funny stories and some strange characters.
Monkey Dishes and Cocktail Fawks
My Harrowing days in the restaurant business. Great Read.
It's a Long Story
Long Short Fiction - Great stories!
Bloggin' Be My Life
"Bloggin' be My Life" contains a selection of some of my more popular Hobo Philosopher blogs.If you enjoy reading this blog, you should love Bloggin' Be My Life.
It's All About Love
It's All About Love is ... all about love. This is the 2nd book of poetry from The Bard From Chelmsford off Arlington. Every poem in this book comes with a prose introduction. If you enjoy poetry this is a simple choice. Have fun!
A Little Something
Traditional poetry from The Bard From Chelmsford Off Arlington with some poignant prose introductions. If you enjoy any type of poetry, you will enjoy this volume. Thanks.
Talking To Myself
This is my third book of poetry.
Bits and Pieces
The Hobo Philosopher - My first book using the Hobo Philosopher brand. Featuring a variety of writing styles and ideas. Look for the Thoughtful Hobo on the cover.
A Baker's Dozen
The Hobo Philosopher: My Second book of Fiction, Creative Non-Fiction and Short Stories. All varieties of short stories - lots of laughs!
Cat Point - and Them Dang Oyster People
Cat Point is the sequel to "The Eastpointer." Both books contain humorous tales about life in a fishing community on the Florida Panhandle. Lots of laughs.
Won 1st Place award for humor in 2007 from Florida Press Association. More wit, wisdom and humor from the yet to be world famous author, R.E. Noble
A Summer with Charlie - Lawrence
Fiction - Salisbury Beach, Lawrence, Mass. Featured in Merrimack Valley Magazine July /Aug. issue 2010
Travel, Humor, Commentary on migrant farm work and illegal immigration still very pertinent today.
"Just Hangin' Out Ma"
Thank God for the Street Corners of Lawrence, Mass. Anecdotes and humorous escapades about growing up in an industrial mill town in the 40s,50s and 60s.
This is the sequel to "Just Hangin' Out, Ma"
That Old Gang of Mine
This is # 3 in my Lawrence Hometown series. The series is about growing up in the 40's, 50's and 60's in an industrial mill town. Sorta like a Huck Finn goes to vist Uncle Ralph, the bus driver, who lives in a big, rundown city. Lots of fun.
Come On-A My House
This is # 4 in my Lawrence Hometown series.The old homested at 32 Chelmsford ST is pictured on the cover..
Down By The Old Mill Stream
# 5 in the Lawrence My Hometown series.
Standing on the Corner is # 6 in the lawrence My Hometown series.
The old Howard Playstead on Lawrence St.
Eat, Drink and Be Merry
# 7 in the Lawrence my Hometown series.
Honor Thy Father and Thy Mother
Classic tragic novel written from child's perspective. Deals with abuse, poverty, unemployment. Pulls no punches.
Noble Notes on Famous Folks
Humorous, satirical notes on everybody from Constantine to Bill Clinton. Inspiration: Willy Cuppy.
America on Strike
History - documented survey of labor strikes in America
Mein Kampf - An Analysis of Book One
Who are the American Nazis - the Liberals or the Conservatives?
MY NAME IS RICHARD EDWARD NOBLE. I AM A FREELANCE WRITER AND I HAVE PUBLISHED 12 BOOKS:"THE EASTPOINTER" - SELECTIONS FROM AWARD WINNING NEWSPAPER COLUMN - "A LITTLE SOMETHING" - POETRY WITH PROSE -"HONOR THY FATHER AND THY MOTHER" - A NOVEL ABOUT GROWING UP IN THE NEW ENGLAND MILL TOWN OF LAWRENCE, MASS, "HOBO-ING AMERICA" - A WORKINGMAN'S TOUR OF THE U.S.A. - "A SUMMER WITH CHARLIE" - THE STORY OF A YOUNG SAILOR'S LAST DAYS AT SALISBURY BEACH, "NOBLE NOTES ON FAMOUS FOLKS" - HUMOROUS ANECDOTES ON FAMOUS FOLKS IN HISTORY,
"AMERICA ON STRIKE" HISTORY BOOK - A SURVEY OF LABOR STRIKES IN AMERICA; "A BAKER'S DOZEN" A BOOK OF HUMOROUS SHORT STORIES; "JUST HANGIN' OUT, MA" - GROWING UP IN THE 40'S, 50'S AND 60'S IN LAWRENCE, MY HOMETOWN, "TENEMENT DWELLERS" - SEQUEL TO JUST HANGIN OUT, MA; MEIN KAMPF - ANALYSIS OF BOOK ONE - HISTORY. CAT POINT - AND THEM DANG OYSTER PEOPLE - SEQUEL TO THE EASTPOINTER
All 12 BOOKS ARE AVAILABLE ON AMAZON.COM, BARNES AND NOBLE AND OTHER INTERNET SOURCES OR FROM NOBLE PUBLISHING. ALL 12 OF MY BOOKS ARE NOW ON KINDLE AT BARGAIN PRICES TOO. IF YOU WOULD LIKE MORE INFORMATION ABOUT DISCOUNTS AND SPECIAL OFFERS E-MAIL ME. MY EMAIL IS ON MY PROFILE PAGE.