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Ghettoliteratur: a forgotten genre

Abstract

The disappearance of the Ghettoes in the German speaking world during the 19th. Century and the policy of emancipation and integration of Jews implemented by monarchs such as Friedrich Wilhelm III and Joseph II have set in motion a rapid transformation in the living conditions of a population that had hitherto lived in the seclusion of the Judengassen. The establishment of Jewish communities in large cities has caused the abandoning of traditional was of life and the virtual disappearance of a particular language - Jüdisch-deutsch, which was different from the yiddish spoken in Eastern Europe. Several Jewish writers of this period, aware of the extinction of the world of their birth, took upon themselves the responsibility of immortalizing the customs, beliefs and often also the language of the Judengasse. Thus was born the so-called Ghettoliteratur, a genre that was to become quite popular among 19th. Century emmancipated readers. The aim of this research project is, first of all, to establish the historical and geographical framework in which this particular literature emerged. Following that, it´s linguistic aspects are to be analyzed, bearing in mind the ambivalence towards Jüdisch-deutsch, a Jargon considered offensive to the language of cultured (or aculturated) Jews. The restrictions of modernized Jews towards the world of their ancestors has as its counterpoint a romantic idealization of the Gasse, seen as the repository of authentic human values, as opposed to the falsities of life in large cities. Finally, I intend to prepare ananthology of remarkable short stories of Ghettoliteratur and translate them into portuguese, so as to bring this virtually forgotten genre to the attention of contemporary readers. (AU)

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