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Soviet Yiddish Writers "From Revolution to Repression"

Venue: London (UK)
Period: Aug. 12, 2012


The School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), the Jewish Music Institute and Five Leaves Publications organize an international event on Soviet Yiddish Writers. During the event the book "From Revolution to Repression", by Joseph Sherman, will be introduced. The event will take place at SOAS on August 12, 2012. The aim of the event is to commemorate 60 years since the Stalinist execution of Soviet Yiddish witers and other artists belonging to the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee.

At the beginning of the Russian Revolution previously forbidden literature began to spread. Magazines, publishing houses and literary movements were founded by Jews in the Soviet Union. Jewish artists produced excellent avant-guarde works in Yiddish language that could be attribute to the European modernist movement. However, once Stalin established his rule in the Soviet Union, Yiddish writers had increasingly serious troubles to carry on with their work. Their freedom and even their life were put into risk by Stalinist repression. Only few works of Yiddish Soviet writers have been translated into English, notwithstanding the fact that authors such as David Bergelson, Peretz Markish and David Hofshteyn became well-known to Yiddish-speakers worldwide.

During the Second World War, Jewish scientists, writers, actors and other intellectuals from the Soviet Union were brought together by the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee (JAFC). Unfortunately, in 1948 the JAFC was closed down and its leaders imprisoned. The Stalinist repression culiminated with the execution of JAFC leaders on August 12, 1952, including most of the writers represented in the book.
"From Revolution to Repression" includes translations of fiction and poetry, some modernist, some socialist realist, by several of the writers who were executed or died in prison. The book outlines the individual and collective history of the authors and gives an overview of Soviet Yiddish literature. It is published to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the executions.

The editor of the book "From Revolution to Repression", Joseph Sherman, died before completing the book. He taught at the Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies.

The participants

  • Gennady Estraikh, Associate Professor at NYU, will speak on "Why did Stalin murder Yiddish writers?"
  • Robert Chandler, translator of Life and Fate, will speak about Vasily Grossman and Isaak Babel

How to participate to the Event

Participation to the event is free and light refreshments will be provided.

Organizer and Partners

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