OZER BLOSHTEYN (1840-April 29, 1898)
Born in Latgale, Latvia, he attended yeshiva in Vilna. At age fifteen he became a maskil [follower of the modernizing Jewish Enlightenment movement] and studied Russian and German; for a time he was a teacher in Latgale; later, he devoted himself solely to literary work. In his day, he was one of the most popular authors of pulp fiction. From 1878 he published nearly fifty longer and shorter novels and stories. The majority of them were published by Mets Publishers in Vilna. Bloshteyn’s plots were for the most part built on domestic matters. His language was heavily Germanized, although he opposed calling Yiddish “zhargon.” In the preface to his novel Der pedler (The peddler), he wrote that Yiddish “has a logic with its grammar just like all languages.” In 1896 he even wrote articles on just this topic for Hatsfira (The siren). He also published a Russian-Yiddish dictionary, a Russian grammar with Yiddish explanations, a Russian translation of the Siddur, Maḥzor, Haggadah, and a Hebrew textbook. In manuscript he left his grammar of the Yiddish language. He died in Warsaw.
Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 1 (with a list of his works); A. Vevyorke, Revizye (Revision) (Moscow, 1933), pp. 214-44; Yankev Milkh, Oytobyografishe skitsn (Autobiographical scenes) (New York, 1946); A. Litvak, Yidishe literatur (Yiddish literature), part 1 (Kiev, 1928).
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