ELYE GORDON (December 15, 1907-February 28, 1989)
He was a Soviet Jewish prose writer, born in the old Jewish colony of Myadler (Zelenopillya), Ekaterinoslav Province, Ukraine. From his youth he worked in agriculture. Following the death of his parents, he was raised in a children’s home in Berdichev. He was active in the Communist youth organization “Komyug,” He studied in a workers’ faculty at the Odessa Pedagogical Institute, later in the Moscow Pedagogical Institute, and subsequently he was a researcher at the latter institution. He was also involved in Communist agitation and was one of the Yiddish writers who led political work among the Jewish collective farmers in Kherson region and in Crimea. During WWII he worked with a front newspaper and published reports in Moscow’s Eynikeyt (Unity). His first story “Vildgroz” (Wild grass), which appeared in 1930, stood out as something new for Yiddish literary themes concerned with the lives of Jewish farmers until and after the Revolution. From that point forward, he composed numerous stories and novels about the Soviet Jewish village. He took part in the first conference of the All-Soviet Congress of Yiddish Writers in Moscow in August 1934. He wrote stories that appeared in virtually all Soviet Yiddish publications, such as: Yunger boy-klang (Kharkov, 1928), Shtern (Star) in 1933, and Heymland (Homeland) (Moscow, 1948).
Among his books: Vildgroz (Wild grass) (Kharkov, 1930), 104 pp.; Af griner erd (On green fields), stories (Kharkov, 1930), 56 pp.; Arbetbukh af matematik farn 5tn lernyor (Workbook in mathematics for the fifth year in school) (Kharkov-Kiev: Central Publ., 1931), 136 pp., with S. Dzibensko and Z. Yanovska; Iberruf fun stepes (Rollcall from the steppes), notes and sketches (Moscow: Emes, 1932), 101 pp.; Brigade 5 + 7 (Brigade 5 + 7) (Moscow: Emes, 1932), 19 pp.; Kolvirtishe bine (The collective farm stage), one-act plays (Moscow: Emes, 1932), 24 pp., written with Yashe Zeldin; In a nayer fel (In a new skin) (Kharkov-Kiev, 1933), 42 pp.; Ingul boyar (Ingul Boyar), a novel, part 1 (Moscow: Emes, 1935), 270 pp.; Mayz, antireligyeze dertseylung (Mouse, an anti-religious story) (Moscow: Emes, 1936), 54 pp.; In a gusregn (In a downpour) (Moscow, 1937); Dray brider, roman (Three brothers, a novel) (Moscow: Emes, 1939), 180 pp.; Dertseylungen un noveln (Stories and novellas) (Moscow: Emes, 1939), 166 pp.; In yidishe kolvirtn, faktn un fartseykhenungen (On Jewish collective farms, facts and notes) (Moscow: Emes, 1940), 79 pp.; Baloynte (Decorated), stories (Moscow: Emes, 1940), 71 pp.; In eygene kantn (In the same place) (Moscow: Sovetski pisatel, 1969), 441 pp.; Unter der heyser zun (Under the hot sun), novel (Moscow: Sovetski pisatel, 1978), 461 pp.; Laykht-turems (Lighthouses) (Moscow: Sovetski pisatel, 1989), 485 pp.
His work was also included in: Shlakhtn (Battles) (Kharkov-Kiev, 1932); Far der bine: dertseylungen, pyeses, lider (For the stage: stories, plays, poems), with musical notation (together with Yekhezkl Dobrushin) (Moscow, 1929); Deklamater fun der sovetisher yidisher literatur (Reciter of Soviet Yiddish literature) (Moscow, 1934); Komyug, literarish-kinstlerisher zamlbukh ([Jewish] Communist Youth, literary-artistic anthology) (Moscow, 1938). Like all Soviet Yiddish prose, Gordon’s stories and novels were all shaped according to Party lines. His language was rich and popular. He was among the few Yiddish writers in Russia who remained alive after the murder of the creators of Yiddish literature in the Soviet Union.
Sources: A. Vevyorke, in Royte velt (July 1929); Y. Dobrushin, in Shtern (Minsk) (July-August 1930); Dobrushin, In iberboy (Under reconstruction) (Moscow, 1932), pp. 160-71; Shakhne Epshteyn, in Royte velt (March 1930); Kh. Dunyets, in Morgn frayhayt (February 20, 1933); D. Romanove, in Kritish-biblyografisher byuletin (Minsk, 1933); A. Holdes, in Farmest (May-June 1934); M. Vortman, in Shtern (Minsk) (October-November 1935); M. Dubilek, in Sovetishe literatur (January 1940); A. Kushnirov, in Naye prese (Paris) (July 27, 1945); Lo emut ki eḥye (I shall not die but go on living) (Tel Aviv, 1956).
[Additional information from: Berl Kagan, comp., Leksikon fun yidish-shraybers (Biographical dictionary of Yiddish writers) (New York, 1986), col. 146; and Chaim Beider, Leksikon fun yidishe shrayber in ratn-farband (Biographical dictionary of Yiddish writers in the Soviet Union), ed. Boris Sandler and Gennady Estraikh (New York: Congress for Jewish Culture, Inc., 2011), pp. 72-73.]