ASHES OUT OF HOPE: Fiction by Soviet-Yiddish Writers by Irving & Eliezer Greenberg--Eds. Howe

ASHES OUT OF HOPE: Fiction by Soviet-Yiddish Writers

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An impressive selection from roughly two decades (1913-1931) of Soviet-Yiddish fiction--by writers whose promise and considerable achievement ended tragically during the Stalinist repression; the three authors represented here were executed or died in prison. Three stories by David Bergelson, a novella by Moshe Kulbak, and a symbolic piece by ""Der Nister""--all are fresh and lively products of Jewish literary movements which brought contemporary European innovations (impressionism, realism, symbolism) into a happy partnership with the stylistic legacies of formal Hebrew and shtetl exuberance. Bergelson's ""Joseph Schur,"" the most impressive contribution, is a delicately ironic tale in which a gentle, provincial young man is shunted into the home of a wealthy Kiev merchant in order to advance his prospects for marrying into the family; but the drawing room is filled with would-be intelligentsia whose ""cultivated"" talk is outside Joseph's village experience. The merchant moves, preoccupied, among his guests (is it business? rumors of a pogrom?), the world is disconnected, the lady is not interested, and Schur goes home to small certainties with a Chekhovian dying fall: ""Ah, yes, my Mill. That's something."" Bergelson's other pieces express the anguish in the vortex of revolution. Kulbak's touching and humorous saga of the Zelmenyaner clan pays affectionate attention to a group of cranky oldsters at the threshold of communism's New Day, and ""Der Nister's exploration of shame and guilt protests the plight of the creative artist in an ideological circus. With a stylish historical and critical introduction by the editors, this is an outstanding tribute to an important generation of writers.

Pub Date: May 13th, 1977
Publisher: Schocken