Der Nister's Soviet Years

Der Nister's Soviet Years

Yiddish Writer as Witness to the People
Mikhail Krutikov
Distribution: Global
Publication date: 04/24/2019
Format: Hardback 5 black & white
ISBN: 978-0-253-04186-9
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In Der Nister's Soviet Years, author Mikhail Krutikov focuses on the second half of the dramatic writing career of Soviet Yiddish writer Der Nister, pen name of Pinhas Kahanovich (1884–1950). Krutikov follows Der Nister's painful but ultimately successful literary transformation from his symbolist roots to social realism under severe ideological pressure from Soviet critics and authorities. This volume reveals how profoundly Der Nister was affected by the destruction of Jewish life during WWII and his own personal misfortunes. While Der Nister was writing a history of his generation, he was arrested for anti-government activities and died tragically from a botched surgery in the Gulag. Krutikov illustrates why Der Nister's work is so important to understandings of Soviet literature, the Russian Revolution, and the catastrophic demise of the Jewish community under Stalin.

Author Bio

Mikhail Krutikov is Professor of Slavic Languages and Literatures and Preston R. Tisch Professor of Judaic Studies at the University of Michigan–Ann Arbor. He is author of Yiddish Fiction and the Crisis of Modernity, 1905–1914, and From Kabbalah to Class Struggle: Expressionism, Marxism, and Yiddish Literature in the Life and Work of Meir Wiener.



Mikhail Krutikov's book on Der Nister will serve an important function, offering a strong, well-researched, and well-organized analysis of six significant periods in Der Nister's writing. I expect it to inspire a great many new readers of Der Nister, inside and outside of academia.


Amelia M. Glaser, author of Jews and Ukrainians in Russia's Literary Borderlands: From the Shtetl Fair to the Petersburg Bookshop


Among Soviet Yiddish writers, Der Nister occupies a unique place in literary history. Mikhail Krutikov's meticulous analysis follows the transformation of the writer under the pressure of the Soviet ideological environment.


Gennady Estraikh, author of Yiddish in the Cold War

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Table of Contents



1. 1929: The Year of the Great Turn and the End of Symbolism

2. From Symbolism to Reality: Space, Politics and Self in Hoyptshtet

3. The 1930s in Children's Poetry

4. The Generation of 1905

5. Text and Context of The Family Mashber

6. The Last Decade, 1939–1949: Revealing "The Hidden"