The Ghost of the Child: ‘Dos Kleine Menshele’ (The Little Man) by Mendele Moykher Sforim as an Early Stage of Modern Representation of Jewish Childhood

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This article will point out one decisive station in the process of the artistic formation of the image of the Jewish child and childhood, starting with Mendele Moykher Sforim’s (Sholem Yankev Abramovitsh) first story in Yiddish, ‘The Little Man’ (Dos kleine menshele, 1864-1865). I will argue that the heart of this story harbours an extraordinary and novel (for its time) childhood scene, that blatantly confronts pre-modern perception of childhood with its modern representation, and marks a sharp turn in the status and role of childhood in Jewish literature.


Perspectives on Jewish Culture



Luria, ‘The Little Man,’ 35-36.


Luria, ‘The Little Man,’ 16. I agree with Luria’s general description, but in my opinion he does not fully explain the role of the little man in the story.


Ibid., 17.


Dallenbach, The Mirror in the Text, 16. By auto-generation through writing Dallenbach refers to Gide’s idea of creating an image of self-looking into the mirror while writing, an image that on the one hand excludes the other and on the other hand intensifies the reflective and being-inside-oneself on which writing is based.


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