FELIKS (FELIX) FALK (1883-1942)
Born in Germany, he descended from a rabbinical family. He studied German philology and old German literature at the Universities of Jena and Berne, and modern German literature at the University of Berlin. He also studied art history at the Universities of Genoa and Florence. For a time he worked as a private tutor at Geneva University. At the beginning of the twentieth century, he set to prepare a critical scholarly publication of the Shmuel-bukh (Samuel book). In 1909 he published in French a study of Old Yiddish literature and, in particular, the Shmuel-bukh: Mélanges bibliographiques sur les Livres de Samuel en strophes de Nibelungen, précédés d’un exposé général sur la littérature judéo-allemande (Bibliographic miscellany of the books of Samuel in Nibelungen stanzas, preceded by a general presentation on Judeo-German literature) (Leipzig: M. W. Kaufmann), 53 pp. The same work appeared in German under the title: “Die Bücher Samuelis in deutschen Nibelungenstrophen des XV. Jahrhunderts” (The Shmuel-bukh in German Nibelungen verse of the fifteenth century), Mitteilungen zur jüdischen Volkskunde (Communications on Jewish folklore) (Berlin) (1908), pp. 31-51, 79-85, 97-116, 128-50. He lived for many years in Germany and wrote poetry. He published two collections of his poems in German, but the entire time he was working on the Shmuel-bukh. When the Nazis took power in Germany, he fled to Holland and gained a post there at the University of Amsterdam. He also brought to Amsterdam the completed manuscript of his planned edition of the Shmuel-bukh. He found a publisher for the book, but when the war broke out, the publisher rejected his work. When the Germans occupied Holland, they arrested Falk and murdered him. The manuscript was recovered in 1951 and passed into the domain of the Jewish division of the university library in Amsterdam. The director of the division, Dr. L. Fuks, prepared the manuscript for the publisher and brought it out in book form under the title Das Schemuelbuch des Mosche Esrim Wearba (The Shmuel-bukh of Moses 24) (Assen: Van Gorcum, 1961), 2 vols. It provided a photographic reproduction of the Shmuel-bukh from the Augsburg edition of 1544 and a treatise on the contents and character of the text. Falk treated the Jewish and non-Jewish sources of the work, and he gave an analysis of the language and construction of the text in comparison with other editions and manuscripts of the Shmuel-bukh. The preface, all notes, and the analysis were written in German. The full title of Falk’s work was Das Schemuelbuch des Mosche Esrim Wearba, Einleitung und textkritischer Apparat von Felix Falk, aus Nachlass herausgegen von L. Fuks (The Shmuel-bukh of Moses 24, introduction and text-critical apparatus of Feliz Falk, from his estate, by L. Fuks). On the eve of WWII, Dr. Falk made contact with YIVO and published in Yivo-bleter (Pages from YIVO) a work entitled: “Yidishe talmudishe agode fun shloyme hameylekh mitn ashmeday in dem shmir in tsvey alt-yidishe nuskhoes” (Yiddish homiletical pieces from the Talmud by King Solomon with the kings of demons in the emery of two Old Yiddish versions) (Vilna) 13.3-4 (1938), pp. 246-74.
Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 3; Dr. Max Weinreich, Bilder fun der yidisher literatur geshikhte (Studies in the history of Yiddish literature) (Vilna, 1928), pp. 68-111; Maks Erik, Di geshikhte fun der yidisher literatur (The history of Yiddish literature) (Warsaw, 1928), pp. 112-21; Dr. Yisroel Tsinberg, Geshikhte fun der literatur bay yidn (History of Jewish literature), vol. 6 (Vilna, 1935); L. Fuks, in Yidishe kultur (New York) (January 1960); A. M. Haberman, in Hapoel hatsair 51-52 (1961); M. Gerstenfeld, “Samuelboek Tenachfiguren als Helden in Jiddisch Epos” (Biblical figures in the Shmuel-bukh as heroes of a Yiddish epic), Nieuw Israelitisch Weekblad (Amsterdam) (May 1, 1962); Mordekhai Amitai, in Al hamishmar (September 2, 1962); Aleksander Rozental (Dr. Elye Shulman), in Forverts (New York) (September 16, 1962); “Das Schmuelbuch,” Germanistik, Internationales Referatenorgan mit bibliographischen Hinweisen 4.2 (n.s. 872) (April 1963); J. Maitlis, “Ein biblisches Epos in Altjiddish” (A biblical epic in Old Yiddish), Israelitisches Wochenblatt fuer die Schweiz (August 6, 1963); Nosn Ziskind, Maḳs vaynraykhn tsu zayn zibetsiksṭn geboyrntog, shṭudyes ṿegn shprakhn bay yidn, vegn yidishe literatur un gezelshaft (For Max Weinreich on his seventieth birthday, studies in Jewish languages, concerning Yiddish literature and society) (The Hague: Mouton, 1964), pp. 30, 449-65; Ber Borokhov, Shprakh-forshung in literarishe geshikhte (Language research and literary history) (Tel Aviv: Peretz Publ., 1966), p. 96.
Elye (Elias) Shulman