Efrat Gal-Ed

No One’s Language - Itzik Manger – a European Poet

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English World Rights (Texas University Press)


This biography of one of the most important Yiddish poets, the first comprehensive one worldwide, is extraordinary in form and content. The life story of Itzik Manger (1901 – 1969) becomes intertwined with a lively depiction of the Eastern European Yiddish-secular culture in between the World Wars. And appropriately, Gal-Ed’s textual alignment follows the page layout of the Talmud: with a narrative main text, images and explanatory side texts.

This book is more than a biography; it is also a cultural history of Yiddishland. Taking the life of Itzik Manger as an example, it depicts a fictitious place, a literary country of cosmopolites that are connected through Yiddish, Hebrew and their local languages and that live an alternative to Zionism.


From the Book:

»The development and abundance of Yiddish culture up to 1939, its destruction and the tragic break that the Shoah left behind are embodied in Manger’s life story and creative history. Manger’s work originates in Yiddish Eastern Europe with its Romanian, Galician, Polish and Baltic landscapes in which Yiddish-secular culture flourished rapidly in the second half of the 19th century […] Itzik Mange was drawn, like most of his colleagues, to Warsaw, because there one could think, live and be creatively Yiddish in various ways.«


»Efrat Gal-Ed makes her biography on the Jewish poet Itzik Manger a piece of art.« Susanne Klingenstein, NZZ

»It’s not an overstatement to say that Efrat Gal-Ed’s biography on poet Itzik Manger sets a new standard for Yiddish studies, regarding both content and form.« Michael Krutikov, Forverts - The Jewish Daily Forward

»A biography, constructed like a Talmud: Elfrat Gal-Ed sets the Yiddish poet Itzik Manger in his time and his justified literary position. […] Elfrat Gal-Ed has already made outstanding contributions towards Manger in the past. […] [W]ith her monumental biography, she has produced a groundbreaking work, which will be trend-setting for German and international Yiddish studies.« Jakob Hessing, FAZ

»Efrat Gal-Ed manages to capture the tragedy of Manger’s life as the bard of a murdered civilization in her incredibly well documented and outstandingly edited biography. […] With extensive […] original quotes from the Yiddish and images, this biography goes far beyond the description of Manger’s individual fate, but delivers a panorama of Yiddish secular culture itself with numerous digressions.« Dirk Schümer, Literarische Welt

»With this biography on the Yiddish poet Itzik Manger, […] Efrat Gal-Ed has brought a forgotten European author of the 20th century back into literary memory. And with her extraordinary book, she hasn’t merely told a fascinating life story, but also written a small, but important chapter of literary and cultural history.« Günter Nawe, Glarean Magazin

»Gal-Ed’s staggering work is ambitious in both scope and form. […] The clever format of the biography allows the uninitiated a taste of the complex textual world of the Talmud and, by extension, Manger’s own poetic agenda.« Jenna Ingalls, In geveb