Hebrew Melodies

Hebrew Melodies

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By (author)  , Translated by  , Translated by  , Foreword by  , Illustrated by 

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One of the most important German poets of the nineteenth century, Heinrich Heine was a convert without conviction. He chose Christianity over Judaism as a means of securing an academic career, but when his conversion failed to yield the hoped-for job opportunities, he devoted himself to writing instead. This volume presents a new translation of Hebrew Melodies, the third cycle of poems in Heine's late masterwork, Romanzero, which many critics have interpreted as Heine's return to his Jewish roots.

As Elisheva Carlebach explains in her foreword, Heine's "return to God" in his final years was motivated not by faith but by a deep admiration of the Jewish people-a sentiment that is clearly reflected in the poems that make up Hebrew Melodies. This edition presents the original German alongside new English translations by Stephen Mitchell, widely known for his ability to make old classics thrillingly new, and Jack Prelutsky, the author of more than fifty poetry collections for children and adults. Mark Podwal's illustrations beautifully portray the joyous, playful elements of Jewish tradition and hint at what Carlebach calls the "menacing edges of history's nightmares," echoing Heine's position as a poet "caught between worlds."
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Product details

  • Hardback | 120 pages
  • 235 x 273 x 14mm | 953g
  • University Park, United States
  • English
  • 40 Halftones, color
  • 0271084804
  • 9780271084800
  • 1,005,432

Table of contents


Foreword by Elisheva Carlebach


Prinzessin Sabbat / Princess Sabbath

Translated by Stephen Mitchell

Jehuda ben Halevy / Yehuda ben Halevi

Translated by Stephen Mitchell

Disputation / Disputation

Translated by Jack Prelutsky

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Review quote

"A witty American retelling, in word and in image, of Heinrich Heine's inside-out, topsy-turvy satiric art."

-Cynthia Ozick "The wonderful translations by Stephen Mitchell and Jack Prelutsky embody Heine's genius in a contemporary idiom, which happily coexists, in this edition, in parallel columns with the original German text. Poem and translation are supplemented by Mark Podwal's witty, colorful paintings, which illustrate Heine's extravagant whimsy in surprising ways. The book is a treasure."

-Neil Arditi, Jewish Review of Books "The artwork is the greatest triumph of the book. Podwal offers his familiar style here-representational imagery with soft lines, vivid, contrasting color, and fanciful settings that reflect his creative interpretation. He indulges his imagination with non-standard colors, animation of objects such as yads, letters, and musical instruments, and mixing figures from different times and places in one painting, all to great effect."

-Beth Dwoskin, Association of Jewish Libraries Reviews "A lovely, lucid translation by masters Mitchell and Prelutsky, not only of the sense but of the spirit of these beloved and beautiful poems. And an equally delightful feast for the eyes: Mark Podwal's profound, wry, evocative drawings imbue Heine's verse with fresh, new life."

-Marc Michael Epstein, author of Skies of Parchment, Seas of Ink: Jewish Illuminated Manuscripts
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About Heinrich Heine

Stephen Mitchell is a scholar and award-winning translator of such works as the Tao Te Ching, the Iliad, the Bhagavad Gita, and Gilgamesh.

Jack Prelutsky was named the first U.S. Children's Poet Laureate in 2006.

Mark Podwal has illustrated numerous books in collaboration with such luminaries as Elie Wiesel and Harold Bloom. His art is represented in the collections of The Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Victoria and Albert Museum, among many other venues. You can view his work at markpodwal.com.
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