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Music from a Speeding TrainJewish Literature in Post-Revolution Russia$
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Harriet Murav

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780804774437

Published to Stanford Scholarship Online: June 2013

DOI: 10.11126/stanford/9780804774437.001.0001

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Socialist Construction, the Luftmentsh, and the New Jew

Socialist Construction, the Luftmentsh, and the New Jew

Chapter:
(p.66) Two Socialist Construction, the Luftmentsh, and the New Jew
Source:
Music from a Speeding Train
Publisher:
Stanford University Press
DOI:10.11126/stanford/9780804774437.003.0003

Using the concept of gender, masculinity, and the body, this chapter explores how Jewish literature imagines a new political order in the Soviet Union. The reconstruction of the Jewish male body is explicitly linked to socialist construction and national belonging by Soviet Yiddish and Russian novels, journalism, and film associated with the extensive socialist construction projects of the 1930s. Two authors, Perets Markish and David Bergelson, rework the biblical trope of the covenant in their literary imagining of the new Soviet promised land while Isaac Babel, in his story “Karl-Yankel” (1931) provides a grotesquely comical fiction of circumcision on trial. In the Yiddish literature of the 1930s, there is no guarantee in gaining a place in the new Soviet community. However, women Yiddish authors such as Shire Gorshman take a different approach. This chapter also looks at three Russian-language films, each showing the triumph of the new Soviet way of life over traditional life in the shtetl: Vozvrashcheniia Neitana Bekkera (The return of Nathan Bekker, 1932), Granitsa (The border, 1935), and Iskateli schast'ia (Seekers of happiness, 1936).

Keywords:   Jewish literature, political order, Soviet Union, gender, masculinity, male body, socialist construction, films, shtetl, Yiddish literature

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