Sunday, January 15, 2012

On the other hand... too much Tevye

One of my favorite movies is without a doubt Fiddler on the Roof. Everything about it - from the score, to the songs, to the wit, to the cinematography, to the story - makes it one of the most powerful and amusing films I've ever had the pleasure of watching. So it makes a lot of sense that I'd eventually want to read the original Tevye the Dairyman stories by Sholem Aleichem.

I started reading the complete collection, but for now I've stopped. Stalled, even. Tevye's character is somewhat silly - a man who consistently misquotes everything, views the world through a narrow scope, and is one stubborn fellow. Tevye is somewhat loud in tone, a bit jolly and comic-relief for my taste. There's wit, yes, but it's of a dryer, more sly nature than that used in the movies. It's subtle, and apparent that Sholem Aleichem was teasing both his character and the reader with every passing page.

And it's all a bit too much.

I have no doubt in my mind that I'm going to keep reading Tevye the Dairyman. One of my greatest literary goals remains reading the Tevye stories in their original Yiddish (this may take some years of study...), and in the meantime I'll continue reading them much in the same way I read essay collections, or many short story collections - sporadically. This is a book that will remain on my bookshelf, but will not be dominated by it.

1 comment:

  1. I love that movie too. I think I too tried to read the Sholem Aleichem stories once but don't remember my reaction. I'm sure I have them around - now I'm interested to go back and see. It would certainly add to my appreciation of the adaptation author because Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof is so lovable!


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