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Translation of Di Megile Fun Mayn Lebn
Written by: Michel (Mikhl) Radzinski
Dictated in Yiddish to Shimen Kants
Printed by permission of the author's son:
Daniel Radzinski, Palo Alto, California
Printed by permission of the author's son:
Project Coordinator and Translator
Leonard Prager zl
This is a translation from: Di Megile Fun Mayn Lebn by Michel (Mikhl) Radzinski of Semyatitsh, Poland; Lima, Peru;
That translation of >Di Megile Fun Mayn Lebn was privately printed under the title >The Scroll of My Life. The present edition incorporates minor corrections.
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the translation. The reader may wish to refer to the original material
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|Translator and Editor's Preface|
|Michel (Mikhl) Radzinski and His Memoirs|
|A Word on the Translation and the Notes|
|My Beloved Semyatitsh|
|Chapter 1.||Semyatitsh (Polish: Siemiatycze)|
|Chapter 2.||In the Yeshiva|
|Chapter 3.||World War One|
|Chapter 6.||Khaye-Odem Besmedresh|
|The Jewish Holidays|
|Chapter 7.||During the Days of Spiritual Awakening|
|Chapter 8.||The Blowing of the Shofer|
|Chapter 9.||Feast of Tabernacles (Sukes)|
|Chapter 10.||Rejoicing of the Law (Simkhes-Toyre)|
|Chapter 14.||The Night of the Seyder|
|Chapter 15.||Counting of the Omer and Legboymer|
|Chapter 16.||The Feast of Weeks|
|Chapter 17.||Days of Mourning|
|Chapter 18.||The Ninth of Ab|
|Leaving My Shtetl Semyatitsh|
|Chapter 20.||Polish Antisemitism|
|Chapter 22.||Trip to Paris|
|Chapter 23.||Ship Voyage|
|Chapter 25.||David (Chiriqui)|
|A New Life in South America|
|Chapter 27.||Rabbi Avrom-Moyshe Brener|
|Chapter 29.||Saving Relatives|
|Chapter 30.||Adolfo and Isabel Barrios|
|Chapter 31.||The Ban on Peddling|
|Chapter 32.||Yiddish Theater|
|Afterword and a Farewell|
|Afterword - Daniel Radzinski|
|Farewell to a Friend|
|References, Glossary, and Lists|
|List of Persons and Places|
Translator's PrefaceMichel (Mikhl) Radzinski and His Memoirs
In the course of many weeks of immersion in the translation of a very personal kind of composition -- a book of memoirs -- one begins to feel that the author is someone one knows. This is so even though the author has consciously avoided large spheres of personal life out of a powerful need to describe to his children and children's children what he considered to be the crucial experiences of his generation. Thus Michel (Mikhl) Radzinski concentrates on memories of life in Semyatitsh. The Shoa and loss of much of his own family lend pathos to his emotional and highly idealized account of shtetl life. While possessing documentary value, this material is perhaps principally valuable as illumination of the author's inner life. We clearly see how strong was his desire to leave a record of what he regarded as his most important experiences. He came to this task in his middle-seventies when his sight was deteriorating and when he was suffering from Parkinson's Disease, both of which made the use of an amanuensis necessary. I am certain that it would have given this very determined man great satisfaction to know that his memoirs will be read -- if only, alas, in translation -- by his grandchildren.
Close examination of the manuscript shows that it was never properly edited by either the author or Shimen Kants, to whom the memoirs were dictated. Consequently, there are a number of repetitions and discontinuities. Only occasionally are section headings provided. Moreover, we find many Germanisms and certain stylistic features which clearly do not originate with the author. The work was never properly finished, but this does not necessarily mean it is incomplete -- this is an important distinction. I have cut out some repetitious phrases and added a few subtitles, but essentially the work before you has been lightly edited and faithfully reflects the manuscript as I received it.
A Word on the Translation and the Notes
Ideally a good translation does not read like a translation. Traces of the translated language may mar the idiomaticity of the finished work, but there are also cases when the translator might wish to keep some flavor of the original. To do so without offending the syntax or stylistic options of the target language is something of an art.
Chaucer and others have shown that a sprinkling of untranslated words can flavor an entire text; a sampling of non-native syntax may have a similar effect. In the present translation, I am decidedly not interested in communicating the flavor of Yiddish syntax a la Leo Rosten, a strategy which mocks the speaker. I try to imitate the mood of the original in an informal English which is analagous in as many ways as possible to the author's Yiddish. However, I do not want the reader to forget that the original text is rooted in a mental climate different from his own. By giving key terms and names in romanized Yiddish in parentheses (used principally for this purpose) immediately following the translation gives some of the sense or feel of the world in which the text originated. It also enables the reader to judge and thus accept or reject the English rendition (which is sometimes very approximate). At the risk of cluttering the page, I romanize and gloss in the following fashion: beautiful character (sheyne mides); good deeds (maysim toyvim); the old home (di alte heym). When the original Yiddish expression is long I often place it in a footnote. Romanizations are given selectively, but most of them can also be found in the Glossary at the end. I also give footnotes for matters that cannot be explained adequately in a gloss -- identifications of persons, organizations, places, events. Hopefully these may help the reader to enter the world of these memoirs more fully. Footnotes are also where I indicate puzzles, problems in the manuscript, and where I ask for help from others in matters I have not been able to explain. The two Lists (Persons and Places; Subject) can easily be searched in this digitalized edition. They help the reader scan the variety of subjects in the memoirs.
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