Wednesday 13 May 2015


LEON (LEYBUSH-ARN) GOTLIB (GOTTLIEB) (December 18, 1878-January 13, 1947)
            He was born in Grodzisk Mazowiecki, near Warsaw, into an elite family.  Until age seventeen he studied in various yeshivas.  He became a follower of the Jewish Enlightenment and later a Zionist.  He joined the Polish Socialist Party (Polska Partia Socjalistyczna), while he was a student in the Jewish artisanal school in Warsaw.  In 1899 he was arrested at a May Day demonstration and spent six weeks in the Warsaw Citadel.  In 1900 he moved to London, where he served on the editorial board of Der arbayter (The laborer), Yiddish organ of the Polish Socialist Party.  Using the pseudonym Yozef Hartman, he translated: Karl Kautsky’s booklet Di poylishe frage (The Polish question); Byografye fun ferdinand lasal (Biography of Ferdinand Lassalle); two collections of Arbayter gedikhte (Workers’ poems); and he adapted from Polish the story Der shpyon (The spy).  He also wrote in Polish.  In 1901 he emigrated to the United States.  He was a regular contributor to the Forverts (Forward) in New York, in which he published sketches and novels, freely adapted poetry from Polish and German, and translated Maria Konopnicka.  He also wrote for Arbayter velt (Workers’ world) in 1904, Fraye arbeter shtime (Free voice of labor), Glaykhheyt (Equality), and Der veker (The alarm), among others.  He also translated plays from Polish and Russian, which were subsequently staged in New York and elsewhere in America: Malke shvartsenkop (original: Małka Szwarcenkopf) by Gabriela Zapolska, 1903; Der nayer dovid oder der getsvungener shidekh (The new David or the forced match), adapted from Wilhelm Feldmann’s Cudotworca (The miracle worker), 1903; Gots mishpotim (God’s judgments), from Feldmann’s Sądy boże, 1904; Der tants fun libe un toyt (The dance of love and death) by Stanisław Feliks Przybyszewski (original: Taniec miłości i śmierci), 1911.  He also translated Przybyszewski’s Di muter (The mother [original: Matka]), and he authored the comedy Di freylekhe borders (The happy boarders) and the drama Dem rebns tokhter (The rabbi’s daughter) which was adapted from a novel he had written with the same title.  He also wrote articles about Yiddish theater, memoirs of a number of well-known Yiddish stage actors, such as Sigmund Mogulesko, Leyzer Tsukerman, and Boris Tomashefsky.  From 1908 he serialized novels in the Forverts in New York.  Among his other books: Yulyus un helena, lebensbild in fir aktn (Julius and Helena, a life-story in four acts) (London, 1907), 64 pp.; Gold un blut (Gold and blood), a novel (New York, 1912), 478 pp.; Libes-veyen (Troubles in love), a tale (New York, 1919), 91 pp.; Bertha (Bertha), a novel (New York), 170 pp.  Pen names: L. Grodski, Der poylisher Litvak (The Polish Lithuanian), Elgot, G. Lipski, and G. Kvintov.  His memoirs of the Warsaw artisanal school can be found in manuscript in the archives of YIVO in New York.

Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 1; Z. Zilbertsvayg, Teater-leksikon, vol. 1; M. Osherovitsh, in Yorbukh fun semeteri-department fun arbeter-ring (Annual of the Cemetery Department of the Workmen’s Circle) (New York, 1947).

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