Imagine that a hitherto unknown cache of unpublished manuscripts and correspondence of Ernest Hemingway had just been discovered. The interest in the scholarly community and the public would be enormous. Hemingway was a giant. Chaim Grade, pronounced Grah’de was such a giant of Yiddish literature. He died in 1982 and his widow was determined to protect his legacy. Unfortunately she became increasingly reclusive, and when she died intestate in 2010 a treasure trove of Grade’s papers was discovered in her apartment, floor to ceiling in total disarray. The interest, while not as large as it might have been for Hemingway,was nevertheless immediate and intense. While the number of Yiddish speakers and readers has been in decline for decades, there has been a remarkable resurgence of interest in the academic world. After a bidding war among universities and libraries, the papers were finally subjected to scholarly scrutiny.
I was privileged to be present in New York when the public at large was given a first glimpse at the contents of the apartment. The occasion was the Dr. Mordche Shecter annual memorial lecture at Yivo, the institute for the scientific study of all things Yiddish that was established in Vilna before WW2, and reborn and relocated to New York after the war.
A scholar, Dr. Miriam Trinh, presented an inventory of the contents of the apartment, now called “The Chaim and Inna Grade Archive”. In her presentation ( a 1&1/2 hour lecture entirely in Yiddish, presented her findings and stressed that this was, in scholarly terms, just the tip of the iceberg.
I asked Dr. Trinh for a copy of the lecture and want to share it all the Yiddish lovers at HBT, especially those who have read Grade’s books with me over the years.
Please join me on Thursday Sept. 11 at 7.30 pm in the Enkin board room.