Until the widow of Yiddish writer Chaim Grade died last year, his archive was kept locked away in their stuffed apartment. Now it’s up for grabs.
Like Isaac Bashevis Singer, his fellow Yiddish writer, Chaim Grade (his last name is pronounced GRAH-duh) fled the Russian Empire and settled in New York, where he established himself as a major figure in the literary world. But while Singer’s fame flourished in America, Grade’s reach grew more limited. After Grade died in 1982, scholars, translators, and publishers tried to acquire his unpublished works for posthumous publication but were stymied by Grade’s widow. Fiercely protective of her husband’s legacy, Inna Grade rebuffed nearly all who approached her. Meanwhile, the Grade apartment in the Bronx would become an impassable and grimy shrine to her husband’s papers and books.
Inna Grade died last year. In the ensuing months, Yiddishists have thrilled to the possibility that they will finally gain access to her husband’s extensive archive and perhaps come upon an unpublished gem of a manuscript. For now, though, the hunt is on hold, as the public administrator of the Bronx has yet to determine which of six competing institutions will inherit Grade’s papers. Meanwhile, the archive is in the provisional custody of the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research. YIVO Executive Director Jonathan Brent spoke to Vox Tablet host Sara Ivry about the reasons for Chaim Grade’s relative obscurity, the ghosts lurking in the volumes he left behind, and his towering significance as a writer—Grade is to Vilna, Brent says, as William Faulkner is to the American South. [Running time: 26:21.]
An Egyptian exile considers Jewish identity—and his own—in a cosmopolitan world. Excerpted from the new essay collection Alibis.
Daily rate: $2
Monthly rate: $18
Yearly rate: $180
WAIT, WHY DO I HAVE TO PAY TO COMMENT?
Tablet is committed to bringing you the best, smartest, most enlightening and entertaining reporting and writing on Jewish life, all free of charge. We take pride in our community of readers, and are thrilled that you choose to engage with us in a way that is both thoughtful and thought-provoking. But the Internet, for all of its wonders, poses challenges to civilized and constructive discussion, allowing vocal—and, often, anonymous—minorities to drag it down with invective (and worse). Starting today, then, we are asking people who'd like to post comments on the site to pay a nominal fee—less a paywall than a gesture of your own commitment to the cause of great conversation. All proceeds go to helping us bring you the ambitious journalism that brought you here in the first place.
I NEED TO BE HEARD! BUT I DONT WANT TO PAY.
Readers can still interact with us free of charge via Facebook, Twitter, and our other social media channels, or write to us at email@example.com. Each week, we’ll select the best letters and publish them in a new letters to the editor feature on the Scroll.
We hope this new largely symbolic measure will help us create a more pleasant and cultivated environment for all of our readers, and, as always, we thank you deeply for your support.