Tuesday, 30 April 2019
YOYSEF RABIN (April 18, 1900-1987)
The author of stories, he was born in Grodno. He attended religious elementary school and a Jewish state school. He worked as a typesetter in a print shop. From his youth he was part of the revolutionary movement in Lithuania. In 1918-1919, he was chair of the illegal committee of the “Komyug” (Communist youth) organization. He debuted in print with poems and stories in the early 1920s. In 1923 he was one of the founders of the Moscow journal Yungvald (Young forest), secretary of the Yiddish section of the Moscow Association of Proletarian Writers (MAPP), and a member of the editorial board of the journal Mir geyen (We’re going) and Pyoner (Pioneer). In 1930 he graduated from Yiddish division of the Lenin Pedagogical Institute in Moscow, and he went on to be a researcher at the same institute. In 1934 he was a delegate to the first conference of Soviet writers. He lived in Birobidzhan (1936-1937) and was chair of the writers’ organization in the Jewish Autonomous District. Over the years 1933-1936, he was manager of the prose section of the newspaper Der emes (The truth). At different times, he was a member of the editorial board of the journal Forpost (Outpost) (co-editor for a short time) in Birobidzhan, of the almanacs Oktyabr (October) and Sovetish (Soviet), and in the 1960s of Sovetish heymland (Soviet homeland). He was purged in 1937 and lived in exile for several years in a Siberian camp. (The experiences from those years formed the basis for his last novel which was in fact named In yene yorn [In those years] and appeared in Sovetish heymland posthumously.) He was liberated from exile in 1942, and he volunteered for the front, returning to Moscow after the end of the war.
His first novel, Shvesterkinder (Nurses), was published in 1930, and it soon received recognition from both critics and readers alike. From that point forward, he published prose works year after year, among them: Buzi dubin (Buzi Dubin) and Der veg iz ofn (The road is open). After the war, he published such novels as: Bam nyeman, roman (By the Neman River, a novel), In farsheydene yorn, roman (In various years, a novel), Khavele gefen (Little Eve Gefen), Ikh ze dikh, vilne (I see you, Vilna), Mayn tayerer tsedreyter (My dear confused one), Leye un ir mame (Leah and her mother), Heshl der stolyer un zayn eynikl (Heshl the painter and his grandson), and Roze kadish un ir zun (Rosa Kadish and her son), as well as stories and reminiscences. He was a master at creating psychologically molded images and human characters. Characteristically, there was struggling passion, broad depictions of social historical events, and profound philosophical considerations in his work. His writings were permeated with a thin irony and a poetic lyricism. Rabin’s work was translated into Russian, Byelorussian, and a number of other languages.
In addition to the serials listed above, he published stories and novels in: Pyoner (co-editor, 1925-1928) and Heymland (Homeland) (1947-1948). He especially wrote a great deal for Sovetish heymland (Soviet homeland). Together with Arn Kushnirov, he edited: Fertsn oktyabers, literarishe zamlung (Fourteen Octobers, literary collection) (Moscow: Emes, 1931), 421 pp.; and Der veg fun farat, kamf kegn bundizm un menshevizm in der yidisher proletarisher literatur (The road from treachery, the struggle against Bundism and Menshevism in Yiddish proletarian literature) (Moscow-Minsk: Central People’s Publishers, USSR, 1932), 150 pp. He also co-edited (with Yekhezkl Dobrushin): Deklamater fun der sovetisher yidisher literatur (Declaimer of Soviet Jewish literature) (Moscow: Emes, 1934). His stories also appeared in: Yisroel Rabinovitsh, Der arbeter in der yidisher literatur (The worker in Yiddish literature) (Moscow: Central People’s Publishers, USSR, 1931); Lo amut ki eḥye (I shall not die but live on) (Merḥavya, 1957); Dertseylungen fun yidishe sovetishe shrayber (Stories by Soviet Yiddish writers) (Moscow: Sovetski pisatel, 1969); Tsum zig (To victory) (Moscow: Emes, 1944); and Af naye vegn (Along new paths) (New York: Yidisher kultur farband, 1949).
His own work includes: In layterung, dertseylungen (Purification, stories) (Moscow: Central People’s Publishers, USSR, 1930), 102 pp.; Gedreyte shlyakhn (Tortuous dirt roads), stories (Moscow: Central People’s Publishers, USSR, 1930), 158 pp.; Shvesterkinder (Moscow: Central Publishers, 1930), 221 pp., second edition (Moscow: Emes, 1933), 246 pp.; In teg fun mitn mitvokh, dertseylung (Days in the middle of the week, a story) (Kharkov-Kiev: Central Publishers, 1931), 39 pp.; Mit vos mir lebn (What we live with) (Kiev, 1931); Buzi dubin (Moscow: Emes, 1932), 183 pp.; Di shnayder-fabrik “III internatsyonal” (funem roman buzi dubin) (The tailor’s factory, “Third International,” from the novel Buzi Dubin) (Pinsk: Byelorussian State Publishers, 1932), 96 pp.; Der veg iz ofn (Moscow: Emes, 1935), 197 pp., second edition (1937); Shimen kozer (Simon Kozer) (Moscow, 1936); Mayne eygene (My own), ghetto and partisan stories (Moscow: Emes, 1947), 140 pp.; Mir lebn, dertseylungen (Life goes on, stories) (Moscow: Emes, 1948), 188 pp.; Mayn tayerer tsedreyter (Moscow: Sovetski pisatel, 1969); Bam nyeman, roman (Moscow: Sovetski pisatel, 1969), 533 pp.; In farsheydene yorn, roman (Moscow: Sovetski pisatel, 1978), 446 pp.; Di shtot fun mayn yugnt (The city of my youth) (Moscow: Sovetski pisatel, 1985), 515 pp. He also published a series of novels in Sovetish heymland in Moscow: Khavele gefen 1 (1965); Ikh ze dikh, vilne 1, 2 (1968); Heshl der stolyer un zayn eynikl 4, 6 (1975); Leye un ir mame 11 (1978); and Roze kadish un ir zun 4, 5 (1980). He wrote several novels in Russian, among them: Ulitsa Sholom Aleikhema (Sholem-Aleichem Street) (Moscow: Sovetski pisatel, 1965), 380 pp.; and Ya vizhu tebia, Vil'nius (I see you, Vilna) (Moscow: Sovetski pisatel, 1975), 510 pp. His novels are densely filled with figures who move about freely in their individualism. Political and socio-philosophical problems come center stage. Rabin matched realistic, psychological details with romanticized description of the recent history of the Jewish labor movement. His beloved protagonist is the ordinary man. “Rabin has his own underlying themes in Soviet Yiddish literature,” wrote Yisroel Serebriani, “his own distinctive characters…. He artistically presents us with the worker on the eve of and at the time of the first and second Russian revolutions…. He shows us the Jewish laborer in his daily condition with his ideas and prejudices and how he finally wrenches himself out of the alien ideological influence. [Rabin now occupies] one of the primary places among contemporary Soviet Yiddish prose writers.” As Yankev Shternberg wrote to Rabin: “My eye caught something in your writing that reminded me of Reyzen, even Dinezon’s pious, holy writings; however, you do not follow them in the least, rather our own modern Yiddish writers (first and foremost, Bergelson).”
Monday, 29 April 2019
Sunday, 28 April 2019