Between 1917 and 1921, as revolution convulsed Russia, Jewish intellectuals and writers across the crumbling empire threw themselves into the pursuit of a ?Jewish renaissance.? At the heart of their program lay a radically new vision of Jewish culture predicated not on religion but on art and secular individuality, national in scope yet cosmopolitan in content, framed by a fierce devotion to Hebrew or Yiddish yet obsessed with importing and participating in the shared culture of Europe and the world. These cultural warriors sought to recast themselves and other Jews not only as a modern nation but as a nation of moderns. Kenneth Moss offers the first comprehensive look at this fascinating moment in Jewish and Russian history. He examines what these numerous would-be cultural revolutionaries, such as El Lissitzky and Haim Nahman Bialik, meant by a new Jewish culture, and details their fierce disagreements but also their shared assumptions about what culture was and why it was so important. In close readings of Hebrew, Yiddish, and Russian texts, he traces how they sought to realize their ideals in practice as writers, artists, and thinkers in the burgeoning cultural centers of Moscow, Kiev, and Odessa. And he reveals what happened to them and their ideals as the Bolsheviks consolidated their hold over cultural life. Here is a brilliant, revisionist argument about the nature of cultural nationalism, the relationship between nationalism and socialism as ideological systems, and culture itself, the axis around which the encounter between Jews and European modernity has pivoted over the past century.
This book is the first detailed history of the Russian Symbolist movement, from its initial hostile reception as a symptom of European decadence to its absorption into the mainstream of Russian literature, and eventual disintegration. It focuses on the two generations of writers whose work served as the seedbed of Existentialism in thought and of Modernism in prose and the performing arts, and reassesses their achievements in the light of modern research. At the centre of the study are the texts themselves, with prose quoted in English translation and poetry given in the original Russian with prose translations. There is a valuable bibliography of primary sources and an extensive chronological appendix. This book will fill a long-felt gap, and will be invaluable to students and teachers of Russian and comparative literature, Symbolism, Modernism, and pre-revolutionary Russian culture.
This unique literary study of Yiddish children's periodicals casts new light on secular Yiddish schools in America in the first half of the twentieth century. Rejecting the traditional religious education of the Talmud Torahs and congregational schools, these Yiddish schools chose Yiddish itself as the primary conduit of Jewish identity and culture. Four Yiddish school networks emerged, which despite their political and ideological differences were all committed to propagating the Yiddish language, supporting social justice, and preparing their students for participation in both Jewish and American culture. Focusing on the Yiddish children's periodicals produced by the Labor Zionist Farband, the secular Sholem Aleichem schools, the socialist Workmen's Circle, and the Ordn schools of the Communist-aligned International Workers Order, Naomi Kadar shows how secular immigrant Jews sought to pass on their identity and values as they prepared their youth to become full-fledged Americans.