Producing Redemption in Amsterdam: Early Modern Yiddish Books in Paratextual Perspective

Yiddish was the basic Ashkenazi vernacular in the early modern period. The vast majority of the population was not educated and Yiddish books were printed in order to assist them with keeping a solid Jewish life. Being a basically German language and never being a canonical language as Hebrew, Yiddish also functioned as a buffer language between the internal Ashkenazi Jewish culture and the culture of the environment. Studying the paratexts added to printed Yiddish books may teach us about roles of the printed Yiddish word in Ashkenazi society: contents and forms of books, their contextual framework within Ashkenazi culture, the world of Yiddish book producers on the one hand, and the envisaged readership on the other.