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Russian Jewish Translators and Writers Schiller’s Wilhelm Tell in Bialik’s Translation

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Chapter Summary

July 28th 1936, which happened to be Tisha be-Av, was a particularly hot summer day in Tel Aviv. In the evening, spectators at the Habima theatre watched the première of Friedrich Schiller's play Wilhelm Tell, directed by the German-Jewish newcomer Leopold Jessner. After all, Schiller was the most admired German poet among the Jews, as the poet David Frischman evinced in his article 'Meshorer le-Dorot' (1905). It was in hunger-ridden Odessa, during the Russian civil war, that Hayim Nahman Bialik translated Wilhelm Tell. Wilhelm Tell is the only text in which Bialik follows ‘an exact syllabic metre, the only one in which all lines end with a milel cadence, as had been common in the poetry of the Haskala,’ writes Uzi Shavit.

Keywords: Friedrich Schiller; Hayim Nahman Bialik's translation; Leopold Jessner; Wilhelm Tell



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