PEYSEKH MARKUS (May 20, 1896-March 1973)
He was born in Vizhan (Wizajny), Suvalk district, Lithuania. He studied in religious elementary school and in Rabbi Reynes’s yeshiva in Lide (Lida). During WWI he lived in Olkenik (Valkininkai), later in Kovno, and from there in 1923 he made his way to the United States. For a time he lived in Terre Haute, Indiana, and from 1927 he was in New York where he took up business. His literary activities began with the writing of stories for Di idishe shtime (The Jewish voice) in Kovno (1918), where he later became a regular contributor. He also contributed to: Vispe (Islet) (1921-1923), Lite (Lithuania) (1922), and Folksblat (People’s newspaper), among others—in Kovno. In New York, he was (until 1948) a contributor to Frayhayt (Freedom), in which (among other items) he published serially the novels: A folk vert geboyrn (A people will be born) (1928-1929); Misnagdim (Opponents of Hassidism) (1930-1931); Koyenim (Priests) (1933); and Der amerikaner goylem (The American golem) (1935). From 1948 he was tied to Tog (Day) and later to Tog-morgn-zhurnal (Day-morning journal), in which (aside from stories and sketches) he published the novels: Der vilner goen, farborgene veltn (The Gaon of Vilna, hidden worlds) (1949-1950), in book form (New York, 1952), 489 pp., and in Hebrew translation by Y. Parush as Olamot tmirim, sipur ḥaye hagaon mivilna (Hidden worlds, the story of the life of the Gaon of Vilna) (Jerusalem, 1954), 436 pp.; Di eybike yerushe (The eternal heritage), part two of Der vilner goen (1954); Der mekubl fun lite (The mystic from Lithuania), part three of Der vilner goen (1957); Di shtot fun mekubolim (The city of mystics), about Jews in Frankfurt-am-Main (1962-1963). In the monthly journal Yidishe kultur (Jewish culture), he published, among other things, the novel Tsvishn yidn (Among Jews), about Jews in the West. He also wrote pieces that appeared in: Di tsukunft (The future), Di feder (The pen), Signal (Signal), Getseltn (Tents), and Mosn (Criteria), also its editor—in New York; Lodzer tageblat (Lodz daily newspaper); Dos naye leben (The new life) in Bialystok; Dos folk (The people) and Frimorgn (Morning) in Riga; Di idishe tsaytung (The Jewish newspaper) in Buenos Aires; and Haynt (Today) and Folksblat (People’s newspaper) in Uruguay; among others. In book form, he published: Arum shtal, a roman (Around the stable, a novel), a novel about horse dealers, two parts (Kovno, 1921), 182 pp.; A brik ibern atlantik, dertseylungen (A bridge over the Atlantic, stories), with drawings by Koyenovitsh (brother of Der Nister) (New York, 1932), 264 pp. In the anthology Lite (New York, 1951), vol. 1, pp. 663-86, he published a portion of a long work, Midresh kovne (A tale about Kovno). “His novel Der vilner goen,” wrote Shmuel Niger, “is a contribution to the love of Israel, for which he took the trouble to acquaint himself with historical, folkloristic, and other sources.” “This was the first positive, scholarly novel,” noted Dr. A. Mukdoni, “in our Yiddish literature.” He died in New York.
Sources: Avrom Reyzen, in Nay-yidish (New York) (October-November 1922); Biblyografishe yorbikher fun yivo (Bibliographic yearbooks from YIVO), vol. 1 (Warsaw, 1928), see index; B. Fenster, in Morgn-frayhayt (New York) (July 11, 1932; August 10, 1952); Z. Vaynper, Yidishe shriftshteler (Yiddish writers), vol. 1 (New York, 1933), pp. 105-8; Yudel Mark, in Zamlbukh lekoved dem tsveyhundert un fuftsikstn yoyvl fun der yidisher prese, 1686-1936 (Anthology in honor of the 250th jubilee of the Yiddish press, 1686-1936), ed. Dr. Y. Shatski (New York, 1937), pp. 290-91; N. Y. Gotlib and Y. Dan, in Lite (Lithuania), anthology, vol. 1 (New York, 1951), see index; Y. Varshavski, in Forverts (New York) (July 6, 1952); Dr. A. Mukdoni, in Morgn-zhurnal (New York) (August 3, 1952); Khayim Liberman, in Forverts (September 5, 1952); Y. Botoshanski, in Di prese (Buenos Aires) (September 12, 1952); Y. Rabinovitsh, in Keneder odler (Montreal) (September 19, 1952); Dr. Y. Shatski, in Der veker (New York) (September 25, 1952); E. Almi, in Fraye arbeter-shtime (New York) (August 9, 1957); Y. A. Rontsh, Geklibene shriftn (Selected works) (New York, 1960).
Khayim Leyb Fuks