History in Review
The Worlds of S. An-sky. A Russian Jewish Intellectual at the Turn of the Century. By Gabriella Safran and Steven J. Zipperstein. Stanford Studies in Jewish History and Culture. (Stanford University Press, Stanford: 2006. Pg. xxxii, 542. Figures, Maps, CD.) ISBN: 0-8047-5344-X.
Reviewed by Anna Dogole - March 16, 2007
Perhaps best known as the author of the play, The Dybbuk, Shloyme Zanvl Rappoport, a.k.a. An-sky, was a writer and scholar of Jewish folklore and ethnography. Born in Belarus, An-sky wrote in both Yiddish and Russian, and in addition to The Dybbuk, which was originally titled Between Two Worlds (Tsvishn tsvey veltn), he also wrote such well received books as The Destruction of Galicia (Khurbn Galitsye) part of a three volume work on the devastation of European Jewry in Poland, Galicia, and Bukovina during World War I, a humorous novella called Mendl the Turk and From the Source of Eternity (Fun eybikn kval) a collection of tales. He also wrote a number of songs, including Di Shvue, which became the anthem of the Jewish Socialist Labor Bund.
In The Worlds of S. An-sky: A Russian Jewish Intellectual at the Turn of the Century, Gabriella Safran and Steven J. Zipperstein have gathered together a collection of sixteen essays on An-sky, written by scholars in a diverse range of fields including history, literature, anthropology, Slavic studies, and Jewish studies. These essays serve to provide an interdisciplinary overview of An-sky's literary and ethnographic endeavors.
A sampling of the essays to be found in this collection include:
In addition to the essays, this text also includes a detailed timeline of An-sky's life, and two versions of the text of The Dybbuk. This text includes ample endnotes and it is well illustrated with archival photographs. Also included is a compact disc (CD) containing recordings of Jewish songs that were culled from An-sky's own field recordings from 1912-14, his writings, as well as songs that he heard. This CD, entitled The Upward Flight is accompanied by a pamphlet that includes an essay on The Musical World of S. An-sky and another on Jewish Folksongs. Words for the songs contained on this CD are also included, in transliteration, Yiddish or Russian, and in English translation.
- An-sky, Evgeny Vakhtangov, and The Dybbuk, by Vladislav Ivanov; chair of the Theater Department at the State Institute of Aesthetics in Moscow.
- The Musical Strands of An-sky's Texts and Contexts by Izaly Zemtsovsky; a Folklorist and ethnomusicologist from Russia, who is currently a Visiting Scholar in Music at Stanford University.
- The Russian Jews as a Modern Hero: Identity construction in An-sky's Writings, by Mikhail Krutikov; Assistant Professor of Slavic-Jewish Cultural Relations at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor.
- An-sky, Sholem Aleichem, and the Master Narrative of Russian Jewry, by Steven J. Zipperstein; Daniel E. Koshland Professor and Director of the Taube Center for Jewish Studies at Stanford University.
- "We Are Too Late": An-sky and the Paradigm of No Return by Yohannan Petrovsky-Shtern; Assistant Professor in Modern Jewish History at Northwestern University.
- An-sky's Legacy: the Vilna Historic-Ethnographic Society and the Shaping of Modern Jewish Culture, by Cecile E. Kuznitz; Assistant Professor of Jewish History and Director of Jewish Studies at Bard College.
The Worlds of S. An-sky offers readers an unprecedented glimpse into the life and works of An-sky. Not only does this work serve as an in-depth biography of this monumental literary figure, but it also does double duty as a literary overview of his writings. This text will prove invaluable to scholars, both as a reference guide on An-sky as a historic and literary text on a remarkable man and the period in which he lived. General readers with an interest in Russian or Jewish history, culture, and literature will find that this text is readily accessible and enthralling to read.
The Jews of Khazaria, by Kevin Alan Brook.
This is the second edition of Brook's ground breaking survey of Khazarian history and culture.
The Medici State and the Ghetto of Florence, by Stefanie B. Siegmund.
The Construction of an Early Modern Jewish Community. A comprehensive history of the creation, in 1570, of the Ghetto of Florence and the impact that it had on Jewish and Italian history.
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