"Everything creative in literature is national," declared the well-known Yiddish writer Isaac Bashevis Singer before an enthusiastic crowd of 200 people in Lowell Lecture Hall last night.
Singer, the author of Satan in Goray and The Slave, delivered an essay in which he emphasized that Yiddish writers must be rooted in the Yiddish culture in order to be successful. "It is no accident," he said, "that the great Jewish writers come from places where Yiddish is read."
Besides the essay, Singer read an amusing short story about a successful Yiddish writer in America. The writer only knew a handful of English words, but he was able to bribe enough critics to become rich.
In the question period afterward, Singer speculated on the future of Yiddish writing in the U.S. "Eventually there will be 100 million people in America who will need Ph. D. topics," he said. "Some of these people are going to have to browse through Yiddish documents."
Singer also commented on the richness of the Yiddish language. He said that there were 20 ways to say that a man was poor in Yiddish while there was only five or six ways to do so in the English language.
Singer, the son of a rabbi, was born in Poland and grew up in Warsaw. He came to the U.S. in the 1930's and has been writing stories on demons and ghosts ever since.
The event was sponsored by the Harvard-Radcliffe Hillel Society.