Other Literary Forms
Sholom Aleichem was a prolific writer throughout a career that spanned thirty-six years. His total output comprises more than forty volumes, but much is unavailable in English and would be of little pertinence to most modern readers. Early writings from his rabbinical period, including Hebrew essays on Jewish education, are curiosities but lack originality. His social criticism, never cruel and always mitigated by humor, remains valuable to understanding the now-vanished milieu in which he lived and worked. Journalistic essays, satires, autobiographical sketches, and rhapsodic meditations on biblical and folk themes are often indistinguishable from his short stories and therefore difficult to classify. Though he was less impressive in long narratives and dramas, he did produce several novels still interesting to read. His plays were never total popular and critical successes, but several remain significant for their exploration of themes especially important to Jewish life.