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“My dear children, I write this for you in case your dear children or grandchildren come to you one of these days, knowing nothing of their family. For this reason I have set this down for you here in brief, so that you might know what kind of people you come from.”
These words from the memoirs Glikl bas Leib wrote in Yiddish between 1691 and 1719 shed light on the life of a devout and worldly woman. Writing initially to seek solace in the long nights of her widowhood, Glikl continued to record the joys and tribulations of her family and community in an account unique for its impressive literary talents and strong invocation of self. Through intensely personal recollections, Glikl weaves stories and traditional tales that express her thoughts and beliefs. While influenced by popular Yiddish moral literature, Glikl’s frequent use of first person and the significance she assigns her own life experience set the work apart. Informed by fidelity to the original Yiddish text, this authoritative new translation is fully annotated to explicate Glikl’s life and times, offering readers a rich context for appreciating this classic work.
About the Author
Glikl bas Leib (1646–1724) was a Jewish businesswoman and memoirist from Hamburg, Germany. Chava Turniansky is professor emerita in the Department of Yiddish at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. She is a member of the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities, and an Israel Prize Laureate. Sara Friedman is a translator and has taught translation and translation theory at Bar-Ilan University and Beit Berl College.
“There is much to reward the reader… (in) Glikl’s extraordinary memoirs.”
— Times Literary Supplement
"This is the product of a decades-long labor of love by Turniansky, a professor emerita of Yiddish at the Hebrew University, who like Glikl sought diversion from melancholy after the death of her husband. . . . I have no criticism whatsoever of Turniansky’s work; her edition is superb, and her commentary, laying out the framework of the whole, helps us admirably through the murkier parts. . . . Sara Friedman’s translation not only is chaste, sprightly, and idiomatic but, with its comfortably archaic feel, also conjures up the feel of Glikl’s original. . . . Let us now praise famous Jewish women, indeed, as well as those who for the first time have brought into English this complete and meticulously curated edition of her endlessly fascinating Memoirs."
— Mosaic Magazine
"Realizing how much fuller an experience this new book would provide, I rushed to get Glikl Memoirs: 1691-1719, translated by Sara Friedman and published by Brandeis University Press in 2019. This new edition not only includes all of Glikl’s writing, but also a fascinating introduction by Chava Turniansky, professor emerita of Yiddish literature at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and an Israel Prize laureate. Turniansky also provided the extensive annotations that give historical confirmation and context for the events and people Glikl writes about. The new translation is also livelier, providing fuller expression to Glikl’s vibrant personality."
— Judy Gruen
“Glikl Hamel’s Memoirs open up the life of an early modern Jewish woman in Germany and France in fascinating detail—children, the ups and downs of family fortune, trade, prayer, story-telling, and more. Chava Turniansky has brought her immense Yiddish learning to this splendid edition and Sara Friedman‘s translation does justice to Glikl’s lively prose. Kudos for this gift to European history.”
— Natalie Zemon Davis, author of Women on the Margins: Three Seventeenth-Century Lives
“One of the most riveting literary works of the seventeenth century, Glikl’s Memoirs is a unique human document that records Jewish history through the eyes of a learned, astute Jewish woman. This translation of Chava Turniansky’s magisterial edition is an occasion for celebration, as the complete edition has never before been available in its full glory in English.”
— Elisheva Carlebach, Columbia University
"I cannot recommend this new edition highly enough. Not only is the translation more colorful and accessible to modern readers, but the inclusion of all of Glikl’s stories helps one better appreciate the full scope of her literary achievement."
"[...] an important entry into the canon of Jewish literature."
— Penny Schwartz