Description : The expulsion of the Jews from Spain in 1492 gave rise to a series of rich, diverse diasporas that were interconnected through a common vision and joie de vivre. The exodus took these Sephardim to other European countries; to North Africa, Asia Minor, and South America; and, eventually, to the American colonies. In each community new literary and artistic forms grew out of the melding of their Judeo-Spanish legacy with the cultures of their host countries, and that process has continued to the present day. This multilingual tradition brought with it both opportunities and challenges that will resonate within any contemporary culture: the status of minorities within the larger society; the tension between a civil, democratic tradition and the anti-Semitism ready to undermine it; and the opposing forces of religion and secularism. Ilan Stavans has been described by The Washington Post as “Latin America’s liveliest and boldest critic and most innovative cultural enthusiast.” And the Forward calls him “a maverick intellectual whose canonical work has already produced a whole array of marvels that are redefining Jewishness.” This new anthology contains fiction, memoirs, essays, and poetry from twenty-eight writers who span more than 150 years. Included are Emma Lazarus’s legendary poem “The New Colossus,” inscribed on the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty; the hypnotizing prose of Greece-born, Switzerland-based Albert Cohen; Nobel—Prize winner Elias Canetti’s ruminations on Europe before World War II; Albert Memmi’s identity quest as an Arab Jew in France; Primo Levi’s testimony on the Holocaust; and A. B. Yehoshua’s epic stories set in Israel today. When read together, these explorations offer an astonishingly incisive collective portrait of the “other Jews,” Sephardim who long for la España perdida, their lost ancestral home, even as they create a vibrant, multifaceted literary tradition in exile. From the Hardcover edition.
Description : Twenty-five years ago, Ilan Stavans published his first book, Imagining Columbus: The Literary Voyage (1993). Since then, Stavans has become a polarizing figure, dismissed and praised in equal measure, a commanding if contested intellectual whose work as a cultural critic has been influential in the fields of Latino and Jewish studies, politics, immigration, religion, language, and identity. He can be credited for bringing attention to Jewish Latin America and issues like Spanglish, he has been instrumental in shaping a certain view of Latino Studies in universities across the United States as well abroad, he has anthologized much of Latino and Latin American Jewish literature and he has engaged in contemporary pop culture via the graphic novel. He was the host of a PBS show called Conversations with Ilan Stavans, and has had his fiction adapted into the stage and the big screen. The man, as one critic stated, clearly has energy to burn and it does not appear to be abating. This collection celebrates twenty-five years of Stavans’s work with essays that describe the good and the bad, the inspired and the pedestrian, the worthwhile and the questionable.
Description : Of the 6,000,000 Jews who perished in the Holocaust, at least 160,000 were Sephardim: descendants of Jews exiled from Spain in 1492. Although the horror of the camps was recorded by members of the Sephardic community, their suffering at the hands of Nazi Germany remained virtually unknown to the rest of the world. With this collection, their long silence is broken. And the World Stood Silent gathers the Sephardim's French, Greek, Italian, and Judeo-Spanish poems, accompanied by English translations, about their long journey to the concentration and extermination camps. Isaac Jack Lévy also surveys the 2,000-year history of the Sephardim and discusses their poetry in relation to major religious, historical, and philosophical questions. Wrenchingly conveying the pathos and suffering of the Jewish community during World War II, And the World Stood Silent is invaluable as a historical account and as a documentary source.
Description : Offers a wide overview of the Sephardic presence in North and South America through eleven essays discussing culture, history, literature, language, religion and music.
Description : Not only do "modern" Jewish languages like Yiddish and Hebrew have their own Jewish writers, but every major Western tongue?from German and Russian to English and Portuguese?does as well. These writers are often at the crossroad between the two traditions: their Jewish one and their own national one. Is there such a thing as a modern Jewish literary tradition, one navigating across linguistic and national lines? If so, how should one define it? Ilan Stavans is uniquely qualified to answer these questions and to comment on the power and challenges of cultural margins and literary crossings. He has been at the forefront of an appreciation of the Jewish literary tradition that is less asphyxiating, more global. His reflections on Jewish Latin America have won him the nickname "pathfinder." This incomparable volume showcases Stavans's most insightful and provocative?and at times controversial?observations on transnational Jewish culture and literature. Stavans explores the problems and prospects of representing Jewish experiences through such media as Holocaust memoirs and Jewish museums; astutely comments on well-known intellectual figures, including Lionel Trilling, Isaac Babel, Primo Levi, Harold Bloom, and Walter Benjamin; engages in memorable conversations with Norman Manea, Joseph Brodsky, and Ariel Dorfman; and offers compelling glimpses of revelatory moments in his own life.
Description : A cultural critic of extraordinary erudition, encyclopedic knowledge, and boundless curiosity, Ilan Stavans, an Ashkenazic Jew who grew up in Mexico, negotiates wildly varied topics as effortlessly and deftly as he manages the multiple perspectives of a dual national, religious, and ethnic identity. In Singer’s Typewriter and Mine, a follow-up to The Inveterate Dreamer (Nebraska, 2001), Stavans interweaves his own experience with that of other Jewish writers and thinkers, past and present, to explore modern Jewish culture across the boundaries of language and nation. Juxtaposing the personal and the analytical, these essays and conversations take up the oeuvres of Isaac Bashevis Singer and Mario Vargas Llosa, translation and God’s language, storytelling as midrash, anti-Semitism in Hispanic America, Yiddish and Sephardic literatures, the connection between humor and terror, impostors as cultural agents, the creators of the King James Bible, and the encounter between Jewish and Latino civilizations, to name but a few of Stavans’s topics here. Funny, engaging, and provocative, this collection continues Stavans’s project of opening new vistas in our cross-cultural understanding of language, literature, and life.
Description : Natives of the Iberian Peninsula and the twenty countries of Latin America, as well as their kinsfolk who've immigrated to the United States and around the world, share a common quality or identity characterized as la hispanidad. Or do they? In this lively, provocative book, two distinguished intellectuals, a cultural critic and a historian, engage in a series of probing conversations in which they try to discern the nature of la hispanidad and debate whether any such shared identity binds the world's nearly half billion people who are "Hispanic." Their conversations range from La Reconquista and Spanish monarchs Ferdinand and Isabella, who united the Spanish nation while expelling its remaining Moors and Jews, to the fervor for el fútbol (soccer) that has swept much of Latin America today. Along the way, they discuss a series of intriguing topics, including the complicated relationship between Latin America and the United States, Spanish language and the uses of Spanglish, complexities of race and ethnicity, nineteenth-century struggles for nationhood and twentieth-century identity politics, and popular culture from literary novels to telenovelas. Woven throughout are the authors' own enlightening experiences of crossing borders and cultures in Mexico and Chile and the United States. Sure to provoke animated conversations among its readers, What is la hispanidad? makes a convincing case that "our hispanidad is rooted in a changing tradition, flexible enough to persist beyond boundaries and circumstances. Let us not fix it with a definition, but allow it instead to travel, always."
Description : This long-awaited biography provides a fascinating and comprehensive picture of García Márquez's life up to the publication of his classic 100 Years of Solitude. Based on nearly a decade of research, this biographical study sheds new light on the life and works of the Nobel Laureate, father of magical realism, and bestselling author in the history of the Spanish language. As García Márquez's impact endures on well into his ninth decade, Stavans's keen insights constitute the definitive re-appraisal of the literary giant's life and corpus. The later part of his life will be covered in a second book.
Description : Part of the Jewish Encounter series Here is the stirring story of how Hebrew was rescued from the fate of a dead language to become the living tongue of a modern nation. Ilan Stavans’s quest begins with a dream featuring a beautiful woman speaking an unknown language. When the language turns out to be Hebrew, a friend diagnoses “language withdrawal,” and Stavans sets out in search of his own forgotten Hebrew as well as the man who helped revive the language at the end of the nineteenth century, Eliezer Ben-Yehuda. The search for Ben-Yehuda, who raised his eldest son in linguistic isolation–not even allowing him to hear the songs of birds–so that he would be “the first Hebrew-speaking child,” becomes a journey full of paradox. It was Orthodox anti-Zionists who had Ben-Yehuda arrested for sedition, and, although Ben-Yehuda was devoted to Jewish life in Palestine, it was in Manhattan that he worked on his great dictionary of the Hebrew language. The resurrection of Hebrew raises urgent questions about the role language plays in Jewish survival, questions that lead Stavans not merely into the roots of modern Hebrew but into the origins of Israel itself. All the tensions between the Diaspora and the idea of a promised land pulse beneath the surface of Stavans’s story, which is a fascinating biography as well as a moving personal journey. From the Hardcover edition.