Singer's Typewriter and Mine


Singer's Typewriter and Mine

Reflections on Jewish Culture

Ilan Stavans

Texts and Contexts Series

368 pages


November 2012


$24.95 Add to Cart
eBook (PDF)

November 2012


$24.95 Add to Cart

About the Book

A cultural critic of extraordinary erudition, encyclopedic knowledge, and boundless curiosity, Ilan Stavans, an Ashkenazic Jew who grew up in Mexico, negotiates wildly varied topics as effortlessly and deftly as he manages the multiple perspectives of a dual national, religious, and ethnic identity.
In Singer’s Typewriter and Mine, a follow-up to The Inveterate Dreamer (Nebraska, 2001), Stavans interweaves his own experience with that of other Jewish writers and thinkers, past and present, to explore modern Jewish culture across the boundaries of language and nation. Juxtaposing the personal and the analytical, these essays and conversations take up the oeuvres of Isaac Bashevis Singer and Mario Vargas Llosa, translation and God’s language, storytelling as midrash, anti-Semitism in Hispanic America, Yiddish and Sephardic literatures, the connection between humor and terror, impostors as cultural agents, the creators of the King James Bible, and the encounter between Jewish and Latino civilizations, to name but a few of Stavans’s topics here. Funny, engaging, and provocative, this collection continues Stavans’s project of opening new vistas in our cross-cultural understanding of language, literature, and life.

Author Bio

Ilan Stavans is the Lewis-Sebring Professor in Latin American and Latino Culture at Amherst College.


“In short, Stavans is an old-fashioned intellectual, a brilliant interpreter of his triple heritage—Jewish, Mexican, and American.”—Henry Louis Gates Jr.

"Stavans's charming and erudite prose will draw in even those unfamiliar with his subjects."—Publishers Weekly starred review

"[Singer's Typewriter and Mine is an] eye-opening book-lover's book."—Ray Olson, Booklist

"This major collection of Ilan Stavans's shorter writings confirms his place as a premier interpreter of the Jewish experience in the Americas."—Philip K. Jason, Jewish Book Council

"A wonderful collection. . . . Stavans is an engaged cultural observer with a gift for the written word."—Sonia Smith, Association of Jewish Libraries

Table of Contents

Part I: Waiting for Rabbi Harvey
1. A Visit to Centro Histórico 
Part II: Essays
2. Singer's Typewriter and Mine 
3. Vilde khaye! 
4. Doctor Esperanto 
5. Letter from Caracas 
6. Harry Houdini 
7. Singer: A Purim Parody 
8. Introduction to Moacyr Scliar's The Centaur in the Garden 
9. O <SC>r*o*s*t*e*n</SC>! My <SC>r*o*s*t*e*n</SC>! 
10. Juan Gelman's dibaxu 
11. I Found It at the Movies 
12. Translating Tevye 
13. Nora's Will 
14. Thinking Aloud: The Education of Maurice Samuel 
15. Mario Vargas Llosa: Judeophile 
16. American Jews: Response to Moment 
17. The Hate of Norberto Ceresole 
18. Photographing Singer 
19. Is There a God? 
20. Jacobo Timerman: Prisoner without a Name 
21. Borges and Israel: Three Poems 
22. Yiddish South of the Border 
23. Homero Aridjis: Lessons of 1492 
24. Rereading Lionel Trilling: In the American Grain 
25. Mauricio Rosencof: The Letters that Never Came 
26. A Personal History of Jewish Reading 
27. Esther Kreitman: The Other Singer 
28. Rabbi Marshall T. Meyer 
29. Philip Roth: The Plagiarist 
30. Bruno Schulz on Stage 
31. Sephardic Literature: Unity and Dispersion 
Part III: The Jewish Identity Project 
32. What Melting Pot? Multiculturalism and American Jews: Oy, Are We a Pluribus? 
Part IV: Conversations
33. The Buenos Aires Affair, with Nathan Englander 
34. Humor and Terror, with Marcelo Birmajer 
35. Impostors <AP>R Us, with Robin Dizard 
36. Nostalgia and Recognition, with Morris Dickstein 
37. A Fine Range of Motion, with Allegra Goodman 
Part V: God's Translators
38. Reflections on the King James Bible, with Verónica Albin 
Part VI: Storytelling as Midrash
39. People of the Picture Book 
Source Acknowledgments 

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