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The Book of Bovo

The Dybbukast, Season 1, Episode 9: The Book of Bovo

Season 1, Episode 9

Bovo-Buch is Elia Levita's 16th century Yiddish treatment of the popular Italian chivalric romance Buovo d’Antona. Chivalric romances, popular in the aristocratic circles of High Medieval and Early Modern Europe, are narratives which celebrate courtly love and manners and most often feature the adventures of heroic knights going on quests. Bovo-Buch, which was extremely popular among Ashkenazi Jewish communities of the time, adopts and adapts this form to its own purposes and is an example of the convergence that occurs when a narrative is introduced into a new cultural context.

Dr. Erith Jaffe-Berg, Professor of theatre at the Department of Theatre, Film and Digital Production, University of California at Riverside, explains the cultural collision inherent in the book and illuminates its historical context.

This extended episode is a reimagining of a three-episode series titled “Bovo-Buch: Chivalric Romance, Cultural Collision,” which we originally presented in September 2020 on Judaism Unbound.

Read the transcription for "The Book of Bovo"


Hosted by Aaron Henne

Scholarship provided by Erith Jaffe-Berg, PhD

Edited by Mark McClain Wilson

Story editing by Clay Steakley with Aaron Henne and Julie A. Lockhart

Featuring the voices of Joshua Wolf Coleman, Joe Jordan, Julie A. Lockhart, Rebecca Rasmussen, Clay Steakley, Diana Tanaka, and Mark McClain Wilson, with Yiddish from the original text read by Miri Koral of the California Institute for Yiddish Culture and Language

Theme music composed by Michael Skloff and produced by Sam K.S.

Transcription by Dylan Southard

"The Book of Bovo" Learning Resources

Learn more about:

Also referenced in the episode:

Exercises For Educators:

Watch with captions on YouTube:

Also From Our Artists

A Long Time Ago... To accompany the episode, we invite you to enjoy a piece of video art by theatre dybbuk's resident lighting designer, Brandon Baruch. In the video, you can see the lighting scheme that Brandon designed to accompany text taken from Jerry C. Smith's English translation of Bovo-Buch, as read by actors Joshua Wolf Coleman, Joe Jordan, and Diana Tanaka.


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