David Bergelson's Strange New World

David Bergelson's Strange New World

Untimeliness and Futurity
Harriet Murav
Distribution: Global
Publication date: 02/01/2019
ISBN: 978-0-253-03692-6
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David Bergelson (1884–1952) emerged as a major literary figure who wrote in Yiddish before WWI. He was one of the founders of the Kiev Kultur-Lige and his work was at the center of the Yiddish-speaking world of the time. He was well known for creating characters who often felt the painful after-effects of the past and the clumsiness of bodies stumbling through the actions of daily life as their familiar worlds crumbled around them. In this contemporary assessment of Bergelson and his fiction, Harriet Murav focuses on untimeliness, anachronism, and warped temporality as an emotional, sensory, existential, and historical background to Bergleson's work and world. Murav grapples with the great modern theorists of time and memory, especially Henri Bergson, Sigmund Freud, and Walter Benjamin, to present Bergelson as an integral part of the philosophical and artistic experiments, political and technological changes, and cultural context of Russian and Yiddish modernism that marked his age. As a comparative and interdisciplinary study of Yiddish literature and Jewish culture, this work adds a new, ethnic dimension to understandings of the turbulent birth of modernism.

Author Bio

Harriet Murav is Professor of Slavic Languages and Literatures and Comparative and World Literature at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She is author of Holy Foolishness: Dostoevsky's Novels & the Poetics of Cultural Critique and translator (with Sasha Senderovich) of David Bergelson's 1929 novel Judgment.



Harriet Murav treats Bergelson with the care and sincerity that literary critics have shown other important writers. This is a masterpiece of literary scholarship that will be sure to transform not only how people read Bergelson and who chooses to read Bergelson, but how readers engage with the entire concept of modernism itself.


 (David Shneer, author of Yiddish and the Creation of Soviet Jewish Culture: 1918-1930)

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Table of Contents


Note on Transliteration and Translation


Part I: Postscripts and Departures

Chapter 1: Congealed Time

Chapter 2: The Aftereffect

Chapter 3: Taking Leave

Part II: Bodies, Things, and Machines

Chapter 4: The Glitch

Chapter 5: Delay, Desire, and Visuality

Part III: A Strange New World

Chapter 6: Judgment Deferred

Chapter 7: The Execution of Judgment

Part IV: Time Cannot Be Mistaken

Chapter 8: Socialism's Frozen Time

Chapter 9: The Gift of Time