Finding the Jewish Shakespeare (Hardcover)
The Life and Legacy of Jacob Gordin
Syracuse University Press, 9780815608844, 288pp.
Publication Date: April 2, 2007
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Born of an Anglican mother and a Jewish father who disdained religion, Kaplan knew little of her Judaic roots and less about her famed great-grandfather until beginning her research, more than twenty years ago. Shedding new light on Gordin and his world, Kaplan describes the commune he founded and led in Russia, his meteoric rise among Jewish New York's literati, the birth of such masterworks as Mirele Efros and The Jewish King Lear, and his deadly feud with Abraham Cahan, powerful editor of the Jewish Daily Forward. Writing in a graceful and engaging style she recaptures the Golden Age and colorful actors of Yiddish Theater, 1891-1910, and the dynamic cultural life of Eastern European Jews on New York's Lower East Side, where Gordin was revered. Most significantly she discovers the emotional truth about the man himself, a tireless reformer who left a vital legacy to the theater and Jewish life worldwide, but an aftermath of loss and estrangement to many of his eleven children.
More than a life story, Kaplan takes readers on a stirring search for lost heritage, resolves a family mystery, and she provides a goldmine for theater history buffs: there is no other full-scale biography of Gordin in any language.