SHIYE (JEHOSZUA, JOSHUA) RAPOPORT (July 25, 1895-November 1, 1971)
A literary critic and translation, he was born in Bialystok. He studied in religious elementary school and with private tutors. In 1913 he joined Tseire-Tsiyon (Zionist Youth). From 1922 he studied for several years in Berlin. He lived for a short while in Riga and for many years in Warsaw. During WWII he roamed as far from home as Shanghai in 1941, and in 1946 he settled in Melbourne, Australia. He journalistic work began in 1921 with the Bialystok daily newspaper Dos naye lebn (The new life). He wrote on cultural and community topics, but in later years he mainly concentrated on literary critical writings and translations from world literature. He contributed to: the Riga daily Frimorgn (Morning) of which he was also a member of the editorial board; Vilner tog (Vilna day); Literarishe bleter (Literary leaves), Fraye shriftn (Free writings), and Bikher-velt (Book world) in Warsaw; Vokhnshrift far literatur (Weekly writing for literature), Kundes (Prankster) in New York; Dos fraye vort (The free word) in London; Dos folk (The people) in Riga; Kiem (Existence) and Unzer kiem (Our existence) in Paris; Tsukunft (Future), Literarishe heftn (Literary notebooks), Kultur un dertsiung (Culture and education), and Afn shvel (At the threshold) in New York; Oystralishe yidishe nayes (Australian Jewish news) and Oyfboy (Construction) in Melbourne; and the like. He edited: Der kritiker (The critic); and the Zionist socialist Bafrayung (Liberation) and Bafrayung-arbeter-shtime (Liberation-voice of labor).
His work includes: “Literarishe bleter,” zeyer redaktor un unzer literarishe svive (Literarishe bleter, their editor and our literary environs) (Warsaw: Polet, 1931), 24 pp.; Gustav landoyers tragish lebn, tsu zayn fuftsn yortsayt (1919-1934) (Gustav Landauer’s tragic life, on the fifteenth anniversary of his death, 1919-1934) (Warsaw: 1934), 30 pp.; Dovid ignatov, der romantiker (David Ignatov, the romantic) (Warsaw, 1936), 32 pp.; Proletarishe literatur, pro un kontra (Proletarian literature, pro and contra) (Warsaw: Kh. Bzhoza, 1936), 15 pp.; Af di vegn fun der nayer eyropeyisher literatur (On the roads of modern European literature) (Warsaw: Yidishe universal-biblyotek, 1936-1937), 3 vols.; Tsvishn yo! un neyn! kritik un esey (Between yes! and no!, critic and essay) (Warsaw: Kh. Bzhoza, 1937), 211 pp.; Di tume in der yire (The ritual uncleanliness in idolatry) (Warsaw, 1938), 8 pp.; Der mehus fun dikhtung un ir sotsyale funktsye (The essence of poetry and its social function) (Shanghai, 1941), 63 pp.; Tsurik tsum altn seyder-hayom? (Back to the old agenda?) (Melbourne, 1947), 35 pp.; Akhad hoom, zayn lere un perzenlekhkeyt (Aḥad-Haam, his teachings and personality) (Melbourne, 1947), 94 pp.; Tropns gloybn, mayn antologye (Drops of faith, my anthology) (Melbourne: Bialystok Centre, 1948), 280 pp.; Ershter shnit nokhn shturem (First harvest after the storm) (Melbourne: Friends of Yiddish literature, 1948), 448 pp.; Heymishe geshtaltn (Familiar figures) (Melbourne, 1949), 304 pp.; Heldn un karbones fun der ibergangs-tsayt (Heroes and victims from the transition period) (Melbourne: Friends of Yiddish literature, 1949), 298 pp.; Literatur in demokratishe un totalitarishe lender (Literature in democratic and totalitarian countries) (Melbourne, 1951), 31 pp.; Sholem ashs literarishe nitskhoynes un mapoles (Sholem Asch’s literary victories and defeats) (Melbourne, 1953), 111 pp.; Oysgerisene bleter (Torn up pages) (Melbourne, 1957), 416 pp.; Tanakh improvizatsyes (Tanakh improvisations) (Buenos Aires: Division of the World Jewish Culture Congress, 1960), 264 pp.; Zoymen in vint (Seeds in the wind) (Buenos Aires, 1961), 500 pp.; Fayerlekh in nepl (Solemn in the fog) (Melbourne: Bukh-komitet, 1961), 424 pp.; Mehus fun dikhtung, eseyen, notitsn, retsentsyes vegn dikhter un dikhtung (Essence of poetry, essays, notices, [and] reviews of poets and poetry) (Tel Aviv: Perets Publ., 1963), 321 pp.; Fragmentn fun a lebn (Fragments of a life) (Melbourne, 1967), 372 pp.; Rizn un karlikes unter eyn dakh, eseyen (Giants and dwarfs under one roof, essays) (Melbourne, 1969), 335 pp. Rapoport enriched Yiddish literature by translating serious works from English, French, Russian, and German: Maurice Maeterlinck, Di inteligents fun blumen (The intelligence of flowers [original: L’Intelligence des fleurs]) (Warsaw: Kultur-lige, 1927), 82 pp.; Émile Coué, Bavustziniḳe oytosugestye, als mitl fun zelbstbahershung (Conscious autosuggestion, as a means of self-mastery [original: La maîtrise de soi-même par l'autosuggestion consciente]) (Warsaw: Kh. Bzhoza, 1927), 39 pp.; Romain Rolland, Dos lebn fun mikel andzhelo (The life of Michelangelo [original: Vie de Michel-Ange]) (Warsaw: Kh. Bzhoza, 1927), 220 pp.; Lidiya Seifullina, Dos ponem fun dorf; Gezetsbrekher (The face of a village; Delinquent) (Warsaw: Kultur-lige, 1927), 190 pp.; M. M. Filippov, Leonardo da vintshi, zayn lebn un tetikeyt (Leonardo da Vinci, his life and activities [original: Leonardo da vinchi kak khudozhnik, uchenyi i filosof, biograficheskii ocherk (Leonard da Vinci as artist, scholar, and philosopher, biographical sketch)]) (Warsaw: Orient, 1927), 112 pp.; Y. N. Steinberg, Der veg fun payn (The way of pain) (Warsaw: Kh. Bzhoza, 1927?), 121 pp. Waldemar Bonsels, Di bin maya un vos mit ir farlofn (Maya the bee and what she’s covered with [original: Biene Maja und ihre Abenteuer (Maya the bee and her adventures)]) (Warsaw: Kultur-lige, 1928), 170 pp.; Romain Rolland, Danton, drame in dray aktn fun der franzoyzisher revolutsye (Danton, a drama in three acts from the French Revolution [original: Danton]) (Warsaw, 1928), 220 pp.; Y. N. Steinberg, Fun februar biz oktober 1917 (From February to October 1917 [Ot fevralya po oktyabr’ 1917]) (Warsaw, 1928), 207 pp.; Irina Kakhovskaia, In shturem fun der rusisher revolyutsye (In the storm of the Russian Revolution) (Warsaw: Kh. Bzhoza, 1928), 134 pp.; Rabindranath Tagore, Natsyonalizm (Nationalism) (Vilna: B. Kletskin, 1929), 169 pp.; Angelica Balabanoff, Zikhroynes un iberlebenishn (Memoirs and experiences [original: Erinnerungen und Erlebnisse]) (Warsaw: Kh. Bzhoza, 1929), 420 pp.; Werner Sombart, Libe, luksus un kapitalizm (Love, luxury, and capitalism [original: Luxus und Kapitalismus]) (New York: Y. Yatshkovski, 1929), 245 pp.; Viach Polonskii, Di literarishe shtremungen in ratn-rusland fun 1917 biz 1927 (The literary tendencies in Soviet Russia from 1917 until 1927 [original: Ocherki liternaturnogo dvizheniia revoliutsionoi epokhi (Notes on the literary movement in the revolutionary epoch)]) (Warsaw-New York: Y. Yatshkovski, 1929), 352 pp.; Upton Sinclair, Dos bukh fun lebn (The book of life) (Warsaw-New York: Y. Yatshkovski, 1929), 312 pp.; Wilhelm Capelle, Di grikhishe filozofye (Greek philosophy [original: Griechische Philosophie]) (Warsaw-New York, 1929), 2 vols.; Georges Duhamel, Dos lebn fun martirer (The life of martyrs [original: Vie de martyrs]) (Warsaw, 1930), 168 pp.; V. M. Friche, Di sotsyologye fun kunst (The sociology of art [original: Sotsiologiia iskusstva]) (Warsaw, 1931), 197 pp.; Martin Andersen-Nexø, Pelle der ziger, der groyser kamf (Pelle the Conqueror, the great battle [original: Pelle Erobreren]) (Warsaw: Koykhes, 1936), 409 pp.; Y. N. Steinberg, Marya spiridonova, ir lebn un kamf (Mariya Spiridonova, her life and struggle) (Warsaw: Kh. Bzhoza, 1937), 3 vols.; Shimen Dubnov, Velt-geshikhte fun yidishn folk (World history of the Jewish people [original: Weltgeschichte des Jüdischen Volkes]) (Vilna, 1938-1940), vols. 1 and 4. He also wrote Russian-language pamphlets on Yiddish literature. His pseudonyms include: Y. Riger, Y. Vinkl, Nobod, S-e, and Y. K. R. Rapoport was one of the most rigorous of Yiddish literary critics. His reviews of books and critical essays often aroused heated polemics. He said of himself that “the world appears to me always from its shadow side,” although he did pen more than a few positive criticisms of Yiddish writers, despite their once having been accompanied by shadows. “Rapoport,” wrote Shloyme Bikl, “belongs to those important writing figures in our literature. He was a man of enormous literary mastery, of sharp critical analysis, and an uncompromising polemicist on moral issues in society and literature.” “The merit for agitating Yiddish literature,” noted Meylekh Ravitsh, “over the course of a string of years belongs to Shiye Rapoport…. Yiddish literature has a great mission, and there sits his chair by the eastern wall.” “When one mentions Y. Rapoport,” stated Yitskhok Yanasovitsh, “it means an uncompromising fight for artistic values,… judging and evaluating a work not according to relative values, but according to an absolute measurement.” He died in Melbourne.
Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 4; Meylekh Ravitsh, Mayn leksikon (My lexicon), vol. 2 (Montreal, 1947); Biblyografishe yorbikher fun yivo (Bibliographic yearbooks from YIVO), vol. 1 (Warsaw, 1928), see index; A. Mukdoni, in Di goldene keyt (Tel Aviv) 24 (1956); M. Grosman, in Di goldene keyt 29 (1957); A. A. Robak, Di imperye yidish (The empire of Yiddish) (Mexico City, 1958), pp. 240-60; Y. Ḥ. Biltski, Masot (Essays), vol. 2 (Tel Aviv, 1960), pp. 113-18; Yitskhok Yanasovitsh, in Di prese (Buenos Aires) (January 25, 1961); Shloyme Bikl, Shrayber fun mayn dor (Writers of my generation) (Tel Aviv, 1965), pp. 275-79; Moyshe Ayzenbud, Nusekh y. rapoport (Y. Rapoport’s style) (Melbourne, 1967); Rifoel Mahler, Historiker un vegvayser, eseyen (Historian and guide, essays) (Tel Aviv: Yisroel-bukh, 1967); Yeshurin archive, YIVO (New York).
Dr. Noyekh Gris