Tevye the Dairyman and the Railroad Stories

by Sholem Aleichem,

Book, 1987



Call number

185 ALE


New York : Schocken Books, 1987.


Of all the characters in modern Jewish fiction, the most beloved is Tevye, the compassionate, irrepressible, Bible-quoting dairyman from Anatevka, who has been immortalized in the writings of Sholem Aleichem and in acclaimed and award-winning theatrical and film adaptations. And no Yiddish writer was more beloved than Tevye's creator, Sholem Rabinovich (1859-1916), the "Jewish Mark Twain," who wrote under the pen name of Sholem Aleichem. Beautifully translated by Hillel Halkin, here is Sholem Aleichem's heartwarming and poignant account of Tevye and his daughters, together with the "Railroad Stories," twenty-one tales that examine human nature and modernity as they are perceived by men and women riding the trains from shtetl to shtetl.

User reviews

LibraryThing member bookczuk
A Stanford Book Salon selection for 2012-2013. I cannot speak for others, but for my own part, this book is an emotional journey into my heritage. The village Tevye is from, if real, would have been directly on top of the one my maternal grandparents were from. Since my mother's death a few years
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ago, I've had no one with whom to speak Yiddish. Now, I have Tevye. Plus, I found the copy I'm reading in a box of my mother's, with several other books of Aleichem's, letters from my grandparents (in Yiddish), and other memorabilia from the old country. I'm far too lost in my own history to be much use of anything in any Salon discussion right now. But I am loving all this book has brought me.
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LibraryThing member MarysLibrary
The stories, originally written in Yiddish, from which "Fiddler on the Roof" was developed are collected here as _Tevye the Dairyman_. This novel is much darker and ends with more ambiguity than the musical. Tevye's daughters represent the changes in Jewish life in the late 19th and early 20th
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centuries such as pogroms, revolutionary groups, secularish, and loosening of tradition.
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LibraryThing member TempleofIsrael
With his supple, intelligent translation, Halkin makes accessible the poignant short stories by the legendary Yiddish humorist Sholem Rabinovich (18591916), who wrote under the nom de plume "Sholem Aleichem," a Yiddish salutation. As Halkin elucidates in his introduction, Tevye's self-mocking but
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deeply affecting monologues (which inspired the play and film Fiddler on the Roof satisfy on several levels:
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LibraryThing member annushka
Excellent book although translation has some names and town names (the ones that actually exist) spelled out incorrectly.
LibraryThing member hereandthere
So who is this Shalom Aleichem and how dare he rip off Fiddler on the Roof? Couldn't he at least come up with some original material?

What?! Oh. I see. I'm being told that... I understand.

If you read "Today's Children" and a few other stories in this volume you'll get the core stories of Fiddler on
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the Roof with lots of extra details. It's great! Tevye in the original Shalom Aleichem (pen name of Solomon Naumovich Rabinovich) has a bit more vinegar, drinks a good bit more, and throws around the nonsense Talmud with even greater abandon than he does on film. He's dirtier, and poorer too. But the spirit that actor Chaim Topol brought to the film's character is still spot on. Shalom Aleichem's Tevye is a man with a good heart and a world of troubles, who will endure this world's trials with sharp humor. The words he speaks and the attitudes he cultivates are his survival secret and Shalom Aleichem's magic. Was Shalom Aleichem the "Jewish Mark Twain"? Yeah, I think it fits.

Sometimes the details are almost too much. I imagine that the endless detail of the originals was a valued part of the experience in 1890 or 1900 when first published. The same leisurely pace in 2012 is occasionally tiresome. I didn't read every story, or even every word of some of the stories that I did read, but I enjoyed the experience. Like any American Jew who has seen Fiddler on the Roof more than once, and who has never read much of Shalom Aleichem, I could only read these stories with the film version playing in my mind, helplessly noticing when the text overlapped the film (really, vice versa), and when it ran off in its own playful direction.

Watching the hash Tevye makes of Hebrew phrases (presented in transliteration) is one of the special delights for those who know a little Hebrew, but not being able to do so takes away little from the overall pleasure. Having recently re-watched Fiddler on the Roof, now a basic cultural artifact of American Jewish life, with my children it was a delight to return to the source material and experience Shalom Aleichem's world in three dimensions and high definition.
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LibraryThing member Kyle_Peters
Tevye is a pious dairyman living in Tsarist Russia where he works to support his wife and six daughters (the number continually changes depending on which story you are reading, but I find it humorous). The stories of Tevye the Dairyman focus on his fortunes and dramatic misfortunes as well as the
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lives (specifically the "love lives") of his daughters. Always ready with a half-quote from the Torah (the other half typically clarifies the first part, while only stating the first part translates to negative comments and silly phrases), Tevye is on constant alert of ways in which to make not only money, but a LOT of money. He dreams big and seizes every opportunity that presents itself, which often lands him in a heap of trouble.
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Original language


Original publication date



0805240268 / 9780805240269

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