Stanford University Press remembers a gifted poet, translator, and literary scholar.
Benjamin Harshav, poet, author, teacher, translator, and literary scholar, died last week, leaving behind him a remarkable legacy in the fields of Yiddish and Hebrew literary scholarship. A prolific writer and editor of multiple volumes on poetry, literature, and culture, Harshav published no less than eight titles with Stanford University Press—titles that included translations, edited anthologies, and original essays. His life spanned nearly nine decades and three continents—from Eastern Europe, to Israel, to the United States. During his life he was a champion of comparative literature who took part in a watershed poetic movement and worked indefatigably to bring volumes of Hebrew and Yiddish poetry to wider audiences through translation.
A champion of comparative literature who took part in a watershed poetic movement.
Harshav’s Yiddish roots ran deep—he was born in Vilna, Lithuania in 1928, a town which he described as the “self-styled bastion of Yiddish culture.” But in 1941, the year the Germans wrested the city from Soviet control, Harshav and his family fled to the Urals, where—despite that fact that he would eventually follow a calling in literary scholarship—Harshav attended university to study math and physics.