THE I.L. PERETZ READER
Peretz was best known as a writer of short stories, many of which were written for the miscellanies and periodicals that heedited and published himself. In the early 1890s he begancontributing to the socialist Yiddish newspapers that had been founded in the United States, and when the Yiddish daily pressexploded in Poland at the beginning of the twentieth century, hewas one of its most sought-after contributors. He also wrotestories in Hebrew, and translated or supervised the translationof his work from one language to the other.
Peretz used the story form for the most diverse ends. He wrote mood pieces to express a gnawing dissatisfaction thatafflicted him all his life. His sharp exposures of poverty andsuffering introduced a new standard of realism into Yiddishliterature. He wrote satires, skirting the censor through the useof fables or veiled allusions. By the turn of the century Peretz wasless concerned about abuses within Jewish society, the mainfocus of his writing in the 1890s, than he was about defectionsfrom Jewish society on the part of young Jews espousinginternationalist ideologies or simply drifting into assimilation.He wrote stories dramatizing the moral attainments of theJewish way of life, the vigor of Jewish debate, the charm of Jewish folklore, the troubling grandeur of Jewish history.