This article offers an explorative reading of a parodic Yiddish rendition of T.S. Eliot’s “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” entitled “Der shir hashirim fun Mendl Pumshtok” that was composed by Isaac Rosenfeld and Saul Bellow during their student years in Chicago. The article argues that, by measuring themselves against the main representative of high modernism and by giving a markedly ethnic inflection to Eliot’s poem, Brooks and Rosenfeld attempted to transcend the assumed provincialism of their situation and elbow their way into the American literary canon. More generally, the article suggests that parodic “translations” of this kind, by highlighting the postvernacular dimension of literary language (Shandler), extend the purview of translingual studies by valuing performativity, orality, and collaboration over and against competency as defining elements of linguistic border crossing in an age that has sometimes too hastily been characterized as post-national or post-Romantic. The article thus points to the relevance of what the author calls literary amphilingualism, a prevalent but understudied phenomenon in translingual studies.
From the Goncourt to the Nobel, from Booker to Pulitzer, an astonishing proportion of winners of national literary awards today are people writing in an acquired language whose work does not fit neatly into the nation-state paradigm. Many others allow their language of writing to be cross-fertilized by idioms, dialects, and literary traditions that most would consider alien to it. Yet, until recently, only a handful of scholars, such as Forster (1970), Steiner (1975), Klosty Beaujour (1989), Seyhan (2000), Kellman (2000) and Oustinoff (2001), identified this linguistic mingling as a distinct literary phenomenon.
Costerus is a longstanding book series for state-of-the-art research in the field of English-language literature(s). Besides the more classical research in English, American and Irish literature, do we offer a platform for new directions in literary studies in relation to translation studies, minority literatures, ecology, medical humanities, hemispheric studies, transatlantic studies, network studies and social sciences, as well as reflections on studies in English literature as a discipline.
All submissions are subject to a double blind peer review process prior to publication.
Authors are cordially invited to submit proposals and/or full manuscripts to the publisher at BRILL, Masja Horn.
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