Tevye the Dairyman (Yiddish: טבֿיה דער מילכיקער Tevye der milkhiker, [ˈtɛvjə ˌdɛr ˈmilxikər], Hebrew: טוביה החולב Tovya ha-cholev, [tovˈja (h)aχoˈlev], Tevye being the Ashkenazi pronunciation of Tobias) is the fictional narrator and protagonist of a series of short stories by Solomon Naumovich Rabinovich (better known by his pen-name of Sholem Aleichem), originally written in Yiddish, and first published in 1894. The character is best known from the fictional memoir Tevye and His Daughters (also called Tevye's Daughters, Tevye the Milkman or Tevye the Dairyman) as a pious Jewish milkman in Tsarist Russia with six troublesome daughters:[a] Tzeitel, Hodel, Chava, Shprintze, Beilke, and Teibel. He is also known from the musical dramatic adaptation of Tevye and His Daughters, Fiddler on the Roof. The Village of Boyberik, where the stories are set, is based on the town of Boyarka in Ukraine (then part of the Russian Empire).[b]
Tevye begins his literary life in 1894 with seven daughters. Over time, as Tevye "tells" Aleichem the tales of his family life, six of his seven daughters (Beilke, Chava, Hodel, Shprintze, Taybele, and Tzeitel) are named, and of these five play leading roles in Tevye's stories. The Tevye stories tell of his business dealings; the romantic dealings and marriages of several of his daughters; and the expulsion of the Jews from their village by the Russian government.
The Tevye stories have been adapted for stage and film several times. Sholem Aleichem's own Yiddish stage adaptation was not produced during his lifetime; its first production, by Maurice Schwartz, was in 1919. (Schwartz did a film based on the play twenty years later.) Most famously, it was adapted as the Broadway musical and later film Fiddler on the Roof. The Broadway musical was based on a play written by Arnold Perl called Tevye and His Daughters. Tevye the Dairyman had four film adaptations: in Yiddish (1939), Hebrew (1968), English (1971) and Russian (2017).
Tevye the Dairyman comprises eight stories, with Tevye each time supposedly meeting Sholom Aleichem by chance and relating the latest tale of his trials and tribulations. They have been published in translation under the following titles:
- Tevye Strikes It Rich (also translated as Tevye Wins a Fortune or The Great Windfall)
- Tevye Blows A Small Fortune (also translated as The Roof Falls In or The Bubble Bursts)
- Today's Children (also translated as Modern Children)
- Tevye Leaves for the Land of Israel (also translated as Tevye Goes to Palestine or Tevye is Going to Eretz Yisroel)
- Lekh-Lekho (also translated as Get Thee Out)
The original stories included events not depicted in Fiddler on the Roof. For instance, by the time of the events of Lekh-Lekho, Tevye's wife Golde and Tzeitl's husband Motl (Motel) have both died (Tevye's daughter Shprintze is also dead, as stated in the story "Shprintze"). Also, in Lekh-Lekho, upon learning of the Jews' expulsion, Chava leaves her Russian Orthodox husband, wanting to return to her family and share their exile. Aleichem leaves it to the reader to decide whether or not Tevye forgives her and takes her back, saying:
Put yourself in Tevye's place and tell me honestly, in plain language, what you would have done… (Hillel Halkin translation).
and ending the story with "The old God of Israel still lives!"
A 2009 translation includes a final short story entitled Vachalaklokos that takes place after Lekh-Lekho.
Other translations include:
- Aleichem, Sholem (1994), Sholem Aleykhem's Tevye the Dairyman, Miriam Katz transl (complete, illustrated ed.), Pangloss, ISBN 0-9347-1031-7.
- ——— (1999) [Crown Publishers, 1949], Tevye's Daughters: Collected Stories of Sholom Aleichem, Frances Butwin transl, Sholom Aleichem Family, ISBN 1-9290-6803-4; for many years, this translation seems to have been the standard published version.
The story "Tevye Strikes It Rich" was adapted for children by Gabriel Lisowski in 1976 and published under the title How Tevye Became a Milkman".
The Tevye stories have been recorded and commercially released twice:
- Aleichem, Sholem (1987), The Stories of Tevye the Dairyman, Audio Renaissance, Theodore Bikel narrator (unabridged ed.), Macmillan Audio, ISBN 978-1-55927379-4, with six of the stories: Tevye Strikes It Rich, Tevye Blows a Small Fortune, Today's Children, Hodl, Chava and Lekh-Lekho.
- ——— (2009), Tevye the Milkman, Classic Fiction, Neville Jason narrator (unabridged ed.), Naxos Audiobooks, ISBN 978-962634934-2.
An audio production of Arnold Perl's play Tevya and His Daughters was released by Columbia Masterworks in 1957 (OL 5225); the cast included Mike Kellin as Tevya, Anna Vita Berger as Golde/The Rich Woman, Joan Harvey as Tzeitl, Carroll Conroy as Hodl, and Howard Da Silva (who also directed the production) as Lazar Wolf/The Rich Merchant/The Rabbi.
The NPR/Yiddish Book Center 13-part mid-1990's radio series Great Jewish Stories from Eastern Europe and Beyond, hosted by Leonard Nimoy, broadcast a reading of the story "Chava" performed by Walter Matthau.
Two sequels to the Tevye stories have been published:
- Bard, Mitchell G (2013), After Anatevka: Tevye in Palestine, CreateSpace, ISBN 1-4819-0713-1.
- Fishman, Tzvi (2011), Tevye in the Promised Land, CreateSpace, ISBN 1-4662-2087-2.
Zero Mostel and Chaim Topol are the two actors most associated with the role of Tevye, although Theodore Bikel performed it many times on stage. For the film version of Fiddler on the Roof, the part ultimately went to Topol, as producer-director Norman Jewison felt that Mostel's portrayal was too unnecessarily comic. He was nominated for an Academy Award for his performance in the film version of Fiddler. He also portrayed the character nearly 3,500 times on stage, retiring the role in 2009.
Other noteworthy musical Tevyes have included Luther Adler, Herschel Bernardi, Paul Lipson (original Broadway run, over 2,000 performances), Leonard Nimoy (1971 touring company), Shmuel Rodensky (original Israeli, Yiddish and German productions), Alfred Molina and Harvey Fierstein (2004 Broadway revival), Henry Goodman (2007 London revival), Danny Burstein (2015 Broadway revival), Yehezkel Lazarov (2018 touring company) and Steven Skybell (2018 Off-Broadway revival in Yiddish). Paul Michael Glaser, who played Perchik in the 1971 film version, played Tevye in a 2013–14 touring production in the United Kingdom.
Prior to the 1964 Broadway debut of Fiddler on the Roof, adaptations of the Tevye stories appeared on stage and screen, in America and beyond. The earliest screen version was an American silent film called Broken Barriers, based on Aleichem's own theatrical treatment and released in 1919 (just a few years after Aleichem died). In 1962 Gerhard Klingenberg directed the television film Tuvia Vesheva Benotav, released in English as Tevye and His Seven Daughters. After Fiddler on the Roof became a Broadway sensation, an Israeli film called Tuvia Vesheva Benotav (also "Tevye and His Seven Daughters") starring Shmuel Rodensky was released in 1968, as well as two Russian versions: Teve-molochnik (Tevye the Milkman) in 1985 and Myr vashomu domu! (Tevye's Daughters) in 2017.
- Broken Barriers (1919) with Maurice Schwartz as Tevye
- Tevya (1939) with Maurice Schwartz as Tevye
- Tevye and His Seven Daughters (Tuvia Vesheva Benotav) (1968, Israel/West Germany) with Shmuel Rodensky as Tevye
- Fiddler on the Roof (1971) with Chaim Topol as Tevye
- Tevye's Daughters (Myr vashomu domu!) (2017, Ukraine) with Evgeniy Knyazev as Tevye
- Tevye and His Seven Daughters (Tuvia Vesheva Benotav) (1962, West Germany) with Alfred Balthoff as Tevye
- Alta comedia: Tevié, el lechero (1965, Argentina)
- Teve-molochnik (1985, Soviet Union) with Mikhail Ulyanov as Tevye
- In the first short story, there is also a mention of a seventh daughter; in Fiddler, however, there are only five daughters (using the first five names listed above), of whom only the first three have major roles.
- In Fiddler, the town name is Anatevka.
- Spelled טעוויע דער מילכיקער during the Soviet era, also spelled טבֿיה/טעוויע דער מילכיגער Tevye der milkhiger under the influence of German
- Aleichem, Sholom (1987), Tevye the Dairyman and The Railroad Stories, Library of Yiddish Classics, Hillel Halkin transl, Schocken, ISBN 0-8052-1069-5
- Aleichem, Sholom (2009), Tevye the Dairyman and Motl the Cantor's Son, Classics, Aliza Shevrin transl, Penguin, ISBN 0-1431-0560-4
- Lisowski, Labriel (1976), How Tevye Became a Milkman, adapted by permission of the Family of Sholem Aleichem, Holt, Rhinehart & Winston, ISBN 0-03-016636-5
- "Theodore Bikel and Tevye, the perfect match". Los Angeles Times.
- The fiddler on the roof, United Kingdom.
- "Tevye". The National Center for Jewish Film. Retrieved 18 September 2014.
- Liptzin, Sol (1972), A History of Yiddish Literature, Middle Village, NY: Jonathan David, pp. 68–70, ISBN 0-8246-0124-6.
- Huttner, Jan Lisa (2014), Tevye's Daughters: No Laughing Matter, New York, NY: FF2 Media, ASIN B00NQDQCTG.
- Tevye the Milkman on IMDb
- Tevye and His Seven Daughters on IMDb (German TV movie) (in German)
- Fiddler on the Roof on IMDb
- Fiddler on the Roof at the Internet Broadway Database
- Tevye der milkhiker (Tevye the Dairyman) in Yiddish at the Internet Archive
- How Tevye Became a Milkman by Gabriel Lisowski at the Internet Archive
- Listen to "Chava" performed by Walter Matthau and introduced by Leonard Nimoy, on YouTube