David Stromberg Presents Old Truths and New Clichés: Essays by Isaac Bashevis Singer, in conversation with Agi Legutko

May 26th

McNally Jackson Virtual Event

Join editor David Stromberg along with Yiddish scholar Dr. Agi Legutko for a conversation about an exciting new collection of literary and personal essays from the Nobel Prize-winning writer. 

Old Truths and New Clichés collects nineteen essays--most of them previously unpublished in English--by Isaac Bashevis Singer on topics that were central to his artistic vision throughout an astonishing and prolific literary career spanning more than six decades. Expanding on themes reflected in his best-known work--including the literary arts, Yiddish and Jewish life, and mysticism and philosophy--the book illuminates in new ways the rich intellectual, aesthetic, religious, and biographical background of Singer's singular achievement as the first Yiddish-language author to be awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. Like a modern Montaigne, Singer studied human nature and created a body of work that contributed to a deeper understanding of the human spirit. Much of his philosophical thought was funneled into his stories. Yet these essays, which Singer himself translated into English or oversaw the translation of, present his ideas in a new way, as universal reflections on the role of the artist in modern society. The unpublished essays featured here include "Old Truths and New Clichés," "The Kabbalah and Modern Times," and "A Trip to the Circus."

Old Truths and New Clichés brims with stunning archival finds that will make a significant impact on how readers understand Singer and his work. Singer's critical essays have long been overlooked because he has been thought of almost exclusively as a storyteller. This book offers an important correction to the record by further establishing Singer as a formidable intellectual.

David Stromberg, a writer, translator, and literary scholar, is editor for the Isaac Bashevis Singer Literary Trust. His books include Baddies, Idiot Love and the Elements of Intimacy, and A Short Inquiry into the End of the World.





Dr. Agi Legutko is a Lecturer in Yiddish and Director of the Yiddish Language Program at Columbia University. She specializes in modern Yiddish literature, language, and culture, women and gender studies, and spirit possession in Judaism. She is the author of a historical guidebook, Krakow’s Kazimierz: Town of Partings and Returns (2004, 2009), and her publications have appeared in several journals and essay collections on Yiddish literature and culture, such as Cwiszn, Bridges, Lilith, Jewish Quarterly, Silent Souls? Women in Yiddish Culture (2010), Dybbuk: Na Pograniczu Dwóch Światów (2017), and Theatermachine: Tadeusz Kantor in Context (2020). She received her Ph.D. in Yiddish studies with distinction from Columbia University and her research interests include trauma, memory, performance, and the body represented in Jewish literature, theater, and film. She is currently completing a manuscript exploring the trope of dybbuk possession in modern Jewish cultures.


Buy the Book: 
Old Truths and New Clichés: Essays by Isaac Bashevis Singer Cover Image
ISBN: 9780691217635
Availability: On Our Shelves
Published: Princeton University Press - May 17th, 2022