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I. L. Peretz was born in 1852 in Zamosc, Poland. Though raised in the orthodox tradition, he also absorbed worldly knowledge. He was a prodigy, being advanced enough at the age of six to begin the study of the Talmud. He passed the bar in 1877, and, for a decade, had a thriving practice in his home town. In 1890 he secured a position as a secretary to the Jewish community of Warsaw, a position he was to retain for the rest of his life. Though he experimented with Polish, Hebrew, and Yiddish, it was the last that was to become his chief literary medium. His poem "Monish," published in 1877, first demonstrated that Peretz was a literary craftsman. Before long stories by Peretz began to appear regularly in the Yiddish dailies, and his popularity became immense. At his funeral in 1915 more than a hundred thousand mourners followed his coffin. Several collections of his stories, which were often based on folktales, have appeared in English, including In This World and the Next, The Book of Fire, and the Selected Stories of I. L. Peretz.