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From Kabbalah to Class StruggleExpressionism, Marxism, and Yiddish Literature in the Life and Work of Meir Wiener$
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Mikhail Krutikov

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780804770071

Published to Stanford Scholarship Online: June 2013

DOI: 10.11126/stanford/9780804770071.001.0001

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History and Fiction

History and Fiction

(p.283) Eight History and Fiction
From Kabbalah to Class Struggle
Stanford University Press

Meir Wiener developed an interest in historical fiction for practical and theoretical reasons. His concept of the historical novel can be seen within the theoretical framework of socialist-realist discourse. Wiener argued that historical progress is driven primarily by the plebeian underclass, and that the vagabond intellectual and artist is the voice behind this underclass. This theory can be interpreted as a response to Georg Lukács's concept of the historical novel, in which he dismissed the masses as a historical force. Both Wiener and Lukács are critical of “psychological modernization,” but Wiener proposes a different kind of artistic modernization known as “metaphorical modernization.” This chapter discusses Wiener's historical fiction and his ideas on Jewish history, along with his historical concept of the Yiddish literature. It looks at Wiener's historical novella Valenty Gulviets, which he revised and expanded after arriving in the Soviet Union, turning it a short novel entitled Kolev Ashkenazi. The chapter also examines another Wiener novel, Baym mitllendishn yam (At the Mediterranean Sea), which focuses on the seventeenth-century Venetian rabbi Leon Modena.

Keywords:   Meir Wiener, historical fiction, Georg Lukács, psychological modernization, metaphorical modernization, Jewish history, Yiddish literature, Valenty Gulviets, Kolev Ashkenazi, Leon Modena

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