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The Enigma of Isaac Babel: Biography, History, Contextby Gregory Freidin
Synopses & Reviews
A literary cult figure on a par with Franz Kafka, Isaac Babel has remained an enigma ever since he disappeared, along with his archive, inside Stalin's secret police headquarters in May of 1939. Made famous by Red Cavalry, a book about the Russian civil war (he was the world's first "embedded" war reporter), another book about the Jewish gangsters of his native Odessa, and yet another about his own Russian Jewish childhood, Babel has been celebrated by generations of readers, all craving fuller knowledge of his works and days. Bringing together scholars of different countries and areas of specialization, the present volume is the first examination of Babel's life and art since the fall of communism and the opening of Soviet archives. Part biography, part history, part critical examination of the writer's legacy in Russian, European, and Jewish cultural contexts, The Enigma of Isaac Babel will be of interest to the general reader and specialist alike.
Book News Annotation:
Freidin (Slavic languages and literature, Stanford U.) presents 12 papers exploring the life and work of Soviet writer Isaac Babel (1894-1940), who produced a number of short stories, two plays, and various newspaper articles before he became a victim of the Stalinist purges. The papers reconstruct his biography; place his writings in the context of the turbulent political, cultural, and social circumstances of the first decades following the Russian Revolution; and conduct analyses of more specifically literary issues, such as Babel's debt to Flaubert and his use of linguistic elements of Russian, Yiddish, and Hebrew in his works. Annotation ©2010 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
Part biography, part history, part critical examination of Babel's legacy in Russian, European, and Jewish cultural context, The Enigma of Isaac Babel offers the first comprehensive view of the great Russian Jewish author since the opening of Soviet archives.
About the Author
Gregory Freidin, Professor of Slavic Languages and Literatures at Stanford University, is the author of a critical biography of the poet Osip Mandelstam, A Coat of Many Colors (1987), and the editor of the Norton Critical Edition of Isaac Babel's Selected Writings (2008, forthcoming).
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