Kunitz Joshua - Russian Literature and the Jew


Author : Kunitz Joshua
Title : Russian Literature and the Jew A Sociological Inquiery into the Nature and Origin of Literary Patterns
Year : 1929

Link download : Kunitz_Joshua_-_Russian_Literature_and_the_Jew.zip

The study of the relation of literary fashions to economie, social, and psychological phenomena is a fascinating one. We can observe such a relation in the changing attitude of the Russian author to the peasant, and the American author toward the Negro. It is, however, most strikingly illustrated in the attitude of the Russia'n writer toward the Jew. To disentangle and trace out the varions forces that result in definite literary patterns, is a delicate matter. The characteristic pattern of each period must be viewed in its relation to economie background, social alignments, emotional survivais, and extraneous influences. Moreover, each accepted literary type must be examined as to its accuracy, as to whether the image is such because the object is such, or whether the mirror is crooked and unreliable. In this study I have been primarily interested in the retlected image, i.e., in the Jew as seen by the Russian. Still, I could not repress a natural curiosity concerning the object itself and the idiosyncrasies of the retlecting surface. Has the Jew really been as represented? If not, what bas caused the distortion? Has it been the fault of the mirror, of the atmosphere, or of both? Periodic transmutations of the image provoke further speculation as to what bas aetually been changing. For it is obvions that the image would be affected by a change ip the thing retlected, by a modification in the mirror, by a shift in atmospheric conditions, by an interaction of any two or of all the three suggested contingencies. To answer the above questions, I have made an attempt to study each J ewish type in Russian litera ture with constant reference to the actual Russian Jew in his economie and social milieu, and as he has revealed himself in his life and art. But since my knowledge of this aspect of the subject is not wholly adequate, I have resorted to the labors of recognized scholars in the field, auch as S. M. Dubnow, Y. Gessen, L. Wiener, M. Pinea, ete. In my own field, I found the short essay by B. Gorev, Rusttian Literature and the Jews, and D. Zaslavsky's essay, The Jews in Russian Literature, exceedingly useful and suggestive. Lvov-Rogachevsky's study of the Jewish writer in Russian literature was also of great help to me. In the course of this study, I had occasion to quote many passages from the works of Russian writers. Whenever available, I used existing English translations-Isabelle Hapgood's translation of Turgenev, Oonstanee Garnett's of Dostoievsky and Ohekhov, A. Yarmolinsky's of thè Shield (not complete; in many cases I had to revert to the original), S. S. Koteliansky's of Ohekhov's Note Book, Maurice Magnus's of Andreev's To the Stars, B. S. Guerney's of Kuprin's "Gambrinus," Poslovsky's of Kuprin's "The Jewess," P. Pinkerton's of Artsibashev's Sanm, Th. Seltzer's of Ropshin's Wkat Never Happened, and anonymous translations of Gorky's Fragmenta from My Diàry, and Chirikov's 'l'he Okosen People. I wish to express my gratitude to Professor Olarenee A. Manning for his kindness, encouragement, and valuable criticism; to Mr. Judah A. Joffe for the use of his books and his bibliographieal suggestions; to Miss Rae Bunim for her eomradely help and the many weary hours she spent over the manuscript. I eannot sufticiently express my indebtedness to Professor E. Neff for his detailed eriticism, invaluable suggestions, and very sympathetic attitude. January, 1929. Joshua Kunitz. ...

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