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Jewish Studies Classics in the Falvey Collection

By Jutta Seibert

Against considerable odds the Littman Library of Jewish Civilization has flourished since its launch in 1965. In an article published in 1982 in Jewish Historical Studies, Louis Littman, the series’ founder, recounted his goals for the series and the obstacles he faced in realizing them.

Littman, who grew up in Brighton in the thirties, blamed the relative ignorance of the Jewish intellectual tradition among British Jews on a lack of English translations of classical Hebrew scholarship. He hoped to change the status quo by commissioning translations and publishing Hebrew scholarship in English in a series dedicated to the memory of his father.

However, publishers showed little interest in his project as the series was not expected to be a commercial success and qualified translators were few and far between. It took considerable effort to get the project off the ground.

The first book in the series was a small volume of Hebrew poems from medieval Spain. On its jacket, Littman described the scope of his project:

“The aim of the Littman Library of Jewish Civilization is to present to the English-speaking public a selection of some of the finest products of the Jewish religious and literary genius. It is hoped that this Library will help to encourage a revival of interest in a religious and literary Heritage, much of which has been virtually closed to those unfamiliar with the language in which it is enshrined.”

In 2017, the Littman Library entered a publishing partnership with Liverpool University Press and launched its first e-books. The Villanova community acquired electronic access to the series through JSTOR. A subset of books from the series is also available in print.

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Jutta Seibert is Director of Research Services & Scholarly Engagement at Falvey Memorial Library.

 

 



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Littman E-Library of Jewish Civilization Trial

By Jutta Seibert

Explore the ensemble of Jewish studies books published in the Littman Library of Jewish Civilization (LLJC) series. The books published in this series cover a range of subject areas including history, religious studies, philosophy, literature, and cultural studies including classical and modern works. Online access to LLJC is available on trial basis until Nov. 22 through the Databases A-Z list on the Library’s website.


The series was established in 1965 by Louis Littman in memory of his father with the intent to explore, explain, and perpetuate Jewish heritage. Louis Littman described his motivation for the project and the challenges involved in publishing high-quality Jewish studies books in English in a posthumously published article in the journal of Jewish Historical Studies.

Littman, Louis. “The Littman Library of Jewish Civilization.” Jewish Historical Studies 29 (1982): 311-25. http://www.jstor.org/stable/29779823.

Founder and editors of the series initially focused on publishing translations of seminal Jewish works written in Hebrew as expressed on the dust jacket of the first book in the series: “The aim of the Littman Library of Jewish Civilization is to present to the English-speaking public a selection of some of the finest products of the Jewish religious and literary genius.” The first volume published in 1965 was the poetry collection Hebrew Poems from Spain, selected and translated by David Goldstein. Most of the works published in LLJC in the last decades were written in English. Among the recently added titles are Hasidism Beyond Modernity, Cities of Splendour in the Shaping of Sephardi History, and Final Judgment and the Dead in Medieval Jewish Thought.

Today, LLJC books can be found on various online platforms, such as JSTOR, Liverpool University Press, and ACLS Humanities E-Book. The current trial gives the Villanova community access to a subset of 50 titles on the Liverpool University Press e-book platform. Part of the collection is also available in print. Contact us if you have questions or if you would like to recommend this series for the permanent collection.


Jutta Seibert is Director of Research Services & Scholarly Engagement at Falvey Memorial Library.

 

 



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Last Modified: October 14, 2020