Friday 12 February 2016


VELI (VELVL) HOFSHTEYN (1892-September 2, 1971)

            He was a translator, the younger brother of the poet Dovid Hofshteyn and older brother of the poet Shifre Kholodenko. He was born in Korostishev (Korostyshiv), Ukraine, into the family of an employee in the timber business.  He studied in religious elementary school and Russian with a teacher.  After 1918 he settled in Moscow and began studying in a construction institute, but he did not work in his acquired field. Instead, he became a proofreader and for many years worked at Emes publishing house. After the press was shut down, he switched to Russian and worked for the publishers Sovetskii pisatel' and Goslitizdat. Mainly, though, he was known as a formidable translator of poetry—from Yiddish to Russian and from Russian to Yiddish. With his celebrated brother, Dovid Hofshteyn, he translated from Ukrainian (a language he knew perfectly from childhood, because he grew up in a village among Ukrainian peasants) into Yiddish Kobzar (The bard) (Kiev, 1939) by Taras Shevchenko. From the Russian classics, he translated into Yiddish: Aleksandr Pushkin, Mikhail Lemontov, and Nikolai Nekrasov. From Soviet poetry, he rendered into Yiddish: works by Nikolai Tikhonov, Aleksey Surkov, Aleksandr Prokofiev, Vera Inber, Margarita Aliger, and Pavel Antokolsky. And, from Ukrainian literature, writings by Pavlo Tychyna, Maksym Rylsky, and Leonid Pervomayskiy, among others. From Yiddish into Russian, he translated works by: Osher Shvartsman and especially poems by his brother Dovid and his sister Shifre. Mostly, he published under the pen name V. Eling. He died in Moscow.

Source: Information from Feyge Hofshteyn in Tel Aviv.

Berl Kagan, comp., Leksikon fun yidish-shraybers (Biographical dictionary of Yiddish writers) (New York, 1986), col. 213; 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. 118-19.

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