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Other titles in the Stanford Studies in Jewish History & Culture series:
From Kabbalah to Class Struggle: Expressionism, Marxism, and Yiddish Literature in the Life and Work of Meir Wiener (Stanford Studies in Jewish History and C)by Mikhail Krutikov
Synopses & Reviews
From Kabbalah to Class Struggle is an intellectual biography of Meir Wiener (1893-1941), an Austrian Jewish intellectual and a student of Jewish mysticism who emigrated to the Soviet Union in 1926 and reinvented himself as a Marxist scholar and Yiddish writer. His dramatic life story offers a fascinating glimpse into the complexities and controversies of Jewish intellectual and cultural history of pre-war Europe.
Wiener made a remarkable career as a Yiddish scholar and writer in the Stalinist Soviet Union and left an unfinished novel about Jewish intellectual bohemia of Weimar Berlin. He was a brilliant intellectual, a controversial thinker, a committed communist, and a great Yiddish scholar—who personally knew Lenin and Rabbi Kook, corresponded with Martin Buber and Hugo von Hofmannsthal, and argued with Gershom Scholem and Georg Lukács. His intellectual biography brings Yiddish to the forefront of the intellectual discourse of interwar Europe.
Book News Annotation:
Meir Wiener was a living paradox. He was a Jewish scholar, a writer of Yiddish fiction and a devout communist who moved to the Soviet Union and died fighting for it in 1941. In this biography, Krutikov (Slavic and Judaic Studies, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor) does not skirt the dichotomies in Wiener's beliefs; rather he explains how Wiener melded them into something that made sense to himself. Krutikov relates the life of a man but also of a society that was brutally cut short by the Holocaust. He gives a vibrant picture of intellectual and religious debates alongside the belief in Marxism and class struggle. Many of Wiener's writings have not been translated, so Krutikov gives synopses as he mines them for hints as to Wiener's personality. The story of Wiener's life is well told, portraying him as a brilliant man with flaws and demons, someone who should be better known for both his fiction and his life. Annotation ©2011 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
About the Author
Mikhail Krutikov is Associate Professor of Slavic and Judaic Studies at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and the author of Yiddish Fiction and the Crisis of Modernity, 1905-1914 (Stanford University Press, 2001).
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