Italy and the Origin of Yiddish Literature
Italian Jewish Culture series
Yiddish has differentiated from German more than 700 years ago but very few of the most ancient testimonies of the language are still extant. It is mainly from the end of the 15th century that an important corpus of texts (manuscripts and books) have survived and enable us to draw a picture of what the Jews from this period read. In this corpus at least half of the texts originate from Italy because of the vitality of the printing industry in the peninsula but also because of the relative freedom Jews enjoyed in Italy which favored their creativity and literary production.
In his lecture French scholar of literature Arnaud Bikard presents some of the most interesting writings Ashkenazic Jews produced in Italy, from the chivaleric romances of Elia Levita, influenced by Lodovico Ariosto, to the comic tales of the