Mendele mocher sforim [Yid., = Mendele the book peddler]mĕnˈdələ môkhˈər sfôˈrĭm, pseud. of Sholem Yakov Abramovich shōˈləm yäˈkôv əbräməˈvĭch, 1836–1917, Yiddish novelist. Born in Minsk, and orphaned at 14, he traveled with beggars through Ukraine. His early writings were in Hebrew, but his later novels and short stories were written in Yiddish. He perfected a Yiddish prose style that greatly influenced later writers. Mendele translated many of his later works into Hebrew. Among his best-known writings, dealing with Jewish life in Russia, are Di kliatche [the mare] (1873) and The Travels of Benjamin the Third (1878). Strongly influenced by the secularizing trends of the Hebrew Enlightenment, or Haskalah, he attempted to influence the people to free themselves from the physical and intellectual restraints of the ghetto. He is considered the grandfather of modern Yiddish literature and the father of modern Hebrew literature.
See studies by D. Miron (1973) and T. L. Steinberg (1977).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.