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Yehiel Yeshaia Trunk

TRUNK, YEHIEL YESHAIA (1887–1961), Yiddish essayist and writer. Born near Warsaw to a landowning family with rabbinic ancestry, his most popular work was his memoirs, Poyln ("Poland," 7 vols., 1944–53), a rich source of Jewish folk-culture in Poland. He depicts his ḥasidic background grotesquely, satirically, but mostly lovingly. A member of the *Bund from 1923, he wrote many essays on socialism and Diaspora culture. His work reflects its classical, biblical, talmudic, kabbalistic, and European literary influences. As had many others, he shifted from Hebrew to Yiddish under the influence of I.L. *Peretz. He set a high level of literary criticism in Idealizm un Naturalizm in der Yidisher Literatur ("Idealism and Naturalism in Yiddish Literature," 1927) and in his analyses of the work of *Sholem Aleichem: Sholem Aleykhem (1937), Tevye der Milkhiker ("Tevye the Dairyman," 1939), and Tevye un Menakhem Mendl in Yidishn Velt Goyrl ("Tevye, Menakhem Mendl and Jewish Fate," 1944). He wrote in a light parodic vein in his works on Hershele *Ostropolyer, Der Freylekhster Yid in der Velt ("The Happiest Jew in the World," 1953), Khelmer Khakhomim ("The Wise Men of *Chelm," 1951), and Simkhe Plakhte fun Narkove oder der Yidisher Don-Kikhot ("Simkhe Plakhte of Narkove or the Jewish Don Quixote," 1951).


LNYL, 4 (1961), 121–8. ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: D. Roskies, A Bridge of Longing: The Lost Art of Yiddish Storytelling (1995), 312–18; B. Davis, in: J Sherman (ed.), Biographical Dictionary of Yiddish Writers (2005).

Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2007 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.