The publication of the novel Strange Ways by Rokhl Faygenberg in 1925 was greeted as a milestone in Yiddish literature. A full-length Yiddish novel by a woman was itself a rare event at the time, but a book dealing with a love affair between a married man and a woman from a religious home was almost unheard of. Rokhl Faygenberg defied the convention. With great sensitivity and intelligence she tells the story of the price her characters pay for living in a shtetl by big-city rules.
Vividly set in a Polish shtetl at the turn of the twentieth century, this surprisingly modern story deals with an illicit love affair between a handsome and successful married man and a beautiful and sensitive career woman who entertains her many male friends in her literary salon. Affected by the arrival of the railroad, the shtetl residents begin to adopt the strange ways of a new generation who do not live as their parents and grandparents did before them. Sheyndel, the heroine, and Borukh, her lover, are universal types; but they have been fleshed out by the author into such real and believable people that we easily identify with them.
The delicately etched love story with its many unexpected twists and turns is rendered in a fluid translation, making for gripping reading.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR The publication of Rokhl Faygenberg’s full-length novel Strange Ways in Warsaw in 1925 was an exceptional event in Yiddish literature. Women wrote short works of fiction, mainly poems and short stories. They were not encouraged to write longer works and rarely had the necessary backing. But Faygenberg, who spent most of her professional life in the field of publication, persisted. Besides Strange Ways she was successful in publishing the novels Childhood Years (1909), A Mother (1911), A Two Year Marriage (1932) and The World Wants Us to Be Jews (1936), all in Warsaw, and a four act play, Derelicts, produced in Vilna in 1927. Always restless, she lived at various times in the Ukraine, Lausanne, Kishinev, Bucharest and Paris, finally settling in Israel permanently in 1933 where she founded the publishing house Maasaf, which specialized in Hebrew translations of Yiddish classics. Of her many publications only Strange Ways has been translated into English thus far.
About the Translators Robert Werman, a world-renowned scientist, was a professor of neurophysiology in the United States until 1967 when he took the position of professor of neurophysiology at the Hebrew University. Truly a renaissance man, he published hundreds of scientific papers as well as several books for the layman in English, including Notes from a Sealed Room and Living with an Aging Brain, and two volumes of Hebrew poetry.
Golda Werman was born in Germany, grew up in the United States and now lives in Israel. She is a Milton scholar (author of Milton and Midrash, Catholic University of America Press, 1995) as well as a translator of Yiddish literature. Among her many Yiddish translations are The Dybbuk and Other Writings by S. Anski (Schocken, 1992) and The Stories of David Bergelson: Yiddish Short Fiction from Russia (Syracuse University Press, 1996).