Der Nister s Soviet Years
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179 pages
English

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Description

In Der Nister's Soviet Years, author Mikhail Krutikov focuses on the second half of the dramatic writing career of Soviet Yiddish writer Der Nister, pen name of Pinhas Kahanovich (1884–1950). Krutikov follows Der Nister's painful but ultimately successful literary transformation from his symbolist roots to social realism under severe ideological pressure from Soviet critics and authorities. This volume reveals how profoundly Der Nister was affected by the destruction of Jewish life during WWII and his own personal misfortunes. While Der Nister was writing a history of his generation, he was arrested for anti-government activities and died tragically from a botched surgery in the Gulag. Krutikov illustrates why Der Nister's work is so important to understandings of Soviet literature, the Russian Revolution, and the catastrophic demise of the Jewish community under Stalin.


Acknowledgements


Introduction


1. 1929: The Year of the Great Turn and the End of Symbolism


2. From Symbolism to Reality: Space, Politics and Self in Hoyptshtet


3. The 1930s in Children's Poetry


4. The Generation of 1905


5. Text and Context of The Family Mashber


6. The Last Decade, 1939–1949: Revealing "The Hidden"


Epilogue


Bibliography


Index

Sujets

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Publié par
Date de parution 24 avril 2019
Nombre de lectures 0
EAN13 9780253041906
Langue English

Informations légales : prix de location à la page 0,0047€. Cette information est donnée uniquement à titre indicatif conformément à la législation en vigueur.

Extrait

DER NISTER S
SOVIET YEARS
JEWS IN EASTERN EUROPE
Jeffrey Veidlinger
Mikhail Krutikov
Genevi ve Zubrzycki
Editors
DER NISTER S
SOVIET YEARS
Yiddish Writer as Witness to the People

Mikhail Krutikov
INDIANA UNIVERSITY PRESS
This book is a publication of
Indiana University Press
Office of Scholarly Publishing
Herman B Wells Library 350
1320 East 10th Street
Bloomington, Indiana 47405 USA
iupress.indiana.edu
2019 by Mikhail Krutikov
All rights reserved
No part of this book may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying and recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher. The paper used in this publication meets the minimum requirements of the American National Standard for Information Sciences-Permanence of Paper for Printed Library Materials, ANSI Z 39.48-1992.
Manufactured in the United States of America
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Names: Krutikov, Mikhail, author.
Title: Der Nister s Soviet years : Yiddish writer as witness to the people / Mikhail Krutikov.
Description: First edition. | Bloomington, Indiana : Indiana Univesity Press, [2019] | Series: Jews in Eastern Europe | Includes bibliographical references and index.
Identifiers: LCCN 2018031198 (print) | LCCN 2018033171 (ebook) | ISBN 9780253041883 (e-book) | ISBN 9780253041869 (hardback : alk. paper) | ISBN 9780253041876 (pbk. : alk. paper)
Subjects: LCSH: Nister, 1884-1950-Criticism and interpretation. | Yiddish literature-History and criticism. | Nister, 1884-1950. | Authors, Yiddish-Soviet Union-Biography.
Classification: LCC PJ5129.K27 (ebook) | LCC PJ5129.K27 Z78 2019 (print) | DDC 839/.0933-dc23
LC record available at https://lccn.loc.gov/2018031198
1 2 3 4 5 24 23 22 21 20 19
CONTENTS
Acknowledgments
Introduction: The Symbolist Years, 1907-1929
1. 1929: The Year of the Great Turn and the End of Symbolism
2. From Symbolism to Reality: Space, Politics, and Self in Hoyptshtet
3. The 1930s in Children s Poetry
4. The Generation of 1905
5. Text and Context of The Family Mashber
6. The Last Decade, 1939-1949: Revealing The Hidden
Epilogue: Death of the Author and His Afterlife in Literary Criticism, Memoirs, and Fiction
Bibliography
Index
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
I BECAME INTERESTED IN DER Nister s life and work in the late 1980s, while working at the editorial office of the Moscow Yiddish journal Sovetish heymland . Back then, I missed several opportunities to talk to people who new Der Nister personally and could have provided invaluable information and insights-his widow, Elena Sigalovskaia, his son Yosif, the writers Shmuel Gordon and Mishe Lev, and the critic Moyshe Belenki. I could have learned much more from the poet Khaim Beider, who dedicated his life to gathering information about Soviet Yiddish writers. But I was also fortunate to be involved in the cataloguing of Der Nister s papers at the Russian State Archive of Literature and Art in 1990, where I found important previously undiscovered personal documents. About ten years later I was invited to write a new introduction for the English translation of The Family Mashber that was to be reissued as part of the New Yiddish Library, and although this publication has not yet materialized, it gave a new impetus to my interest in Der Nister, particularly his writings from the Soviet period. Another incentive came in the form of an invitation to lead a seminar on The Family Mashber at the University of D sseldorf from my colleague Marion Aptroot. Over the past fifteen years, I have published a number of studies of Der Nister s works from the Soviet period, which I have substantially revised and expanded for this book.
During this time I have incurred many debts of gratitude to my teachers, colleagues, friends, and family. In several ways this book is a continuation of my dialogue with my mentor at the Jewish Theological Seminary, David Roskies, who encouraged me to start working on Der Nister s novel The Family Mashber . Another conversation partner I have had for many years is Gennady Estraikh, whose impact on this book is difficult to overestimate. I am grateful to the participants of the Mendel Friedman Conference on Yiddish Studies at Oxford-Marc Caplan, Kerstin Hoge, Roland Gruschka, Sabine Koller, Ber Kotlerman, Daniela Mantovan, Harriet Murav-as well as to the anonymous reviewer of this book s manuscript for their helpful suggestions and comments. My special thanks go to Valery Dymshits for sharing his expertise in East European Jewish culture. I would like to thank Taylor and Francis for the permission to use in chapter 6 my article The Writer as the People s Therapist: Der Nister s Last Decade, 1939-49, published in East European Jewish Affairs 46 (2016), and Dr. Graham Nelson of Legenda Press for the permission to use in chapters 2 , 3 , and 5 my publications that previously appeared in the collections Three Cities of Yiddish: St. Petersburg, Warsaw and Moscow ; Children and Yiddish Literature: From Early Modernity to Post-Modernity ; and Uncovering the Hidden: The Works and Life of Der Nister .
My colleagues at the Frankel Center for Judaic Studies at the University of Michigan-Jeffrey Veidlinger, Shachar Pinsker, Anita Norich, Julian Levinson, Zvi Gitelman, and Deborah Dash Moore-helped me shape my ideas and offered important suggestions. I am grateful to the graduate students who read Der Nister s texts with me at our graduate seminars. I also gladly acknowledge the Faculty Summer Writing Grant from the University of Michigan, which enabled me to use a professional copyeditor. At the final stages of writing, I was fortunate to have as an editor Deirdre Casey, who helped improve my style and make my writing more clear. And it was a great pleasure to work with Dee Mortensen and Paige Rasmussen at Indiana University Press, and with Julia Turner from Amnet Systems, who made the publication process smooth and simple. My thanks to Leslie Rubin for compiling the index.
For forty years I have been supported and encouraged by my wife, Julia, to whom I owe more than I can describe.
DER NISTER S
SOVIET YEARS
INTRODUCTION

THE SYMBOLIST YEARS, 1907-1929
AMONG THE WRITERS OF THE postclassical age in modern Yiddish literature, which begins about ten years before the passing of its three founding fathers-Yitskhok Leybush Peretz (1915), Sholem Aleichem (1916), and Sholem Yankev Abramovitsh (1917)-Der Nister (Pinhas Kaganovich or Kahanovitsh, 1884-1950) occupies a special place. His elitist and esoteric symbolist writings of the first half of his literary career, 1907-29, have been celebrated by champions of Yiddish modernism for their innovative style, uncommon imagination, and mystical profundity. Scholars and critics have analyzed his enigmatic tales for adults and children from formalist, psychoanalytical, kabbalistic, folkloric, and literary-historical perspectives. But there are still many questions around the life and work of this enigmatic author, who chose the Hidden One as his pen name and carefully cultivated his persona as a recluse. Perhaps one of the most intriguing is the problem of continuity and cohesiveness in Der Nister s oeuvre, which includes-along with his early symbolist tales-children s poetry, travelogues, essays, and Holocaust stories, as well as both a finished and an unfinished novel. It is commonly assumed that the year 1929, known in Soviet history as the year of the Great Turn or Stalin s revolution, was also the breaking point in Der Nister s literary career, when he was forced to abandon symbolism and all but disappeared from the literary stage. His comeback was painful and uneven, but within ten years, he succeeded in publishing his magisterial novel, The Family Mashber , which was enthusiastically received both in the Soviet Union and abroad and secured Der Nister s reputation as a leading Yiddish novelist.
Since his tragic death in the Gulag in 1950, Der Nister s symbolist works have been thoroughly studied and creatively interpreted by some of the leading scholars of Yiddish literature-Avraham Novershtern, Dov Sadan, Khone Shmeruk, and David Roskies-and two doctoral dissertations, by Delphine Bechtel and Daniela Mantovan, have dealt specifically with his pre-1929 works. Recently, after about fifteen years of relative decline in interest in Der Nister, his post-1929 writings have begun to attract fresh scholarly attention. Building on the contributions of such scholars as Sabine Boehlich, Marc Caplan, Roland Gruschka, Gennady Estraikh, Sabine Koller, Boris Kotlerman, Daniela Mantovan, and Harriet Murav, this study attempts to develop a conceptual framework for a better understanding of the prolific and diverse body of Der Nister s writings from the post-1929 period in all its complexity.
I argue that with all its shortcomings and achievements, Der Nister s oeuvre constitutes a coherent literary corpus that is exceptional in Soviet literature. As most researchers recognize, Der Nister never fully abandoned his symbolist poetics, and its elements can be traced even in his most Soviet works. With great effort, he managed to reinvent himself as a Soviet writer without forfeiting his creative autonomy. My interpretation seeks to underscore the distinctively synthetic nature of his work rather than stress the dichotomy between the Jewish and the Soviet. Rather than trying to smuggle Jewish references into his presumably socialist realist texts, Der Nister sought to merge them in a new epic narrative style. These transformations of style, form, and genre took place under the distressing

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