Yiddish Genesis is a chronological gathering of personal essays written between 1968 and 2010 which explores Fein’s relationship to Yiddish and the Book of Genesis. The book may be seen as informal forays into his obsessions with this material these obsessions going back to his childhood. Fein has entered this material as a way of enabling him to claim his obsessions or them to claim him--not so different from the way his poetry works.
(Author’s intro) "This book could not have been written without obsessions that go back to my childhood and that then re-emerge as findings of the adult I became. When obsessions have obtained a voice they then can shape experience. Whatever the conceptions and chimeras that rove here I ride them to travel more deeply into Yiddish and Genesis. I have entered and re-entered my materials as ways of enabling me to claim them or them to claim me--not so different from the way my poetry works.
I have also come to see that a goodly part of the book deals directly or indirectly with translation. The chemistries of translation and reflection on that process have entered my life and my engagement with poetry. It is not sidework for me but part of whatever development I might claim. Translation is for me a form of second birth.
These essays are visitations of Jewish literatures long haunting me. I am also a reader trying to understand himself--explication as double events extending over decades. To adapt a Chagallian image I eye the horse that eyes me in my village of memory and reading."
Richard J. Fein has published eight books of poetry two books of translations of Yiddish poetry a memoir of Yiddish a critical study and a book of personal essays. For many years he taught English and American literature at SUNY New Paltz he now lives in Cambridge MA.
"It is hard not to be moved by Fein’s passionate yet delicate engagements in which learning teaching translating writing and Yiddish itself are infused with all of the intensity of living beings."--Susan de Sola Rodstein Arts Fuse