Babel' in Context

Babel' in Context

A Study in Cultural Identity

eBook - 2012
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Academic Studies Press
Isaak Babel' (1894-1940) is arguably one of the greatest modern short story writers of the early twentieth century. Yet his life and work are shrouded in the mystery of who Babel' was—an Odessa Jew who wrote in Russian, who came from one of the most vibrant centers of east European Jewish culture, and who all his life loved Yiddish and the stories of Sholom Aleichem This is the first book in English to study the intertextuality of Babel'’s work. It looks at Babel'’s cultural identity as a case study in the contradictions and tensions of literary influence, personal loyalties, and ideological constraint. The complex and often ambivalent relations between the two cultures inevitably raise controversial issues that touch on the reception of Babel' and other Jewish intellectuals in Russian literature, as well as the “Jewishness” of their work.

Book News
A book for academic specialists on fiction writer Isaak Babel', this study by Efraim Sicher (comparative literature, Ben-Gurion U., IL) works to deconstruct Babel''s cultural context, layer by layer. As a Russian Jew from Odessa, Babel' lived in a multicultural, polyglot city that mixed Russian, Ukrainian, Greek, and Jewish influences. As a reader of both Yiddish and Hebrew who wrote in and translated Russian, Babel' crossed four traditions that led toward separate ends: liberal European intellectualism, Zionist emigration, historic Russian anti-Semitism, and anti-intellectual communist revolution. Like his native city, he was trapped in this clash of realities. Caught between the implacable cruelties of Stalin and Hitler, he did not survive. Sicher argues that Babel''s detached reportage of the grotesque works on multiple levels: to allow veiled critique to slide past Stalinist censorship; to both reveal and shield Jewish, Odessan, Russian, and communist allegiances that were often defined as mutually exclusive; to voyeuristically report a concealed world the author knew could not last; and to accurately reflect a universe in which one is an outsider everywhere, a potential enemy never at home. Since much of Babel''s work was censored or lost, he has become an iconic figure for who and what he might have been as well as who and what he was. The clearly written study will be suitable for specialist scholars of Babel', Eastern European-Jewish Studies, and early post-Revolutionary Russian literature. Annotation ©2013 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)

Academic Studies Pr
Isaak Babel (1894-1940) is arguably one of the greatest modern short story writers of the early twentieth century. Yet his life and work are shrouded in the mystery of who Babel was—an Odessa Jew who wrote in Russian, who came from one of the most ibrant centers of east European Jewish culture and all his life loved Yiddish and the stories of Sholom Aleichem This is the first book in English to study the intertextuality of Babel's work. It looks at Babel's cultural identity as a case study in the contradictions and tensions of literary influence, personal loyalties, and ideological constraint. The complex and often ambivalent relations between the two cultures inevitably raise controversial issues that touch on the reception of Babel and other Jewish intellectuals in Russian literature, as well as the “Jewishness” of their work.

Publisher: Boston : Academic Studies Press, 2012
ISBN: 9781618111456
1618111450
1936235951
9781936235957
Characteristics: data file,rda
1 online resource (308 pages) : illustrations

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