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The Jewish Persona in the European ImaginationA Case of Russian Literature$
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Leonid Livak

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780804770552

Published to Stanford Scholarship Online: June 2013

DOI: 10.11126/stanford/9780804770552.001.0001

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Isaak Babel's Portrait of the Artist as a Former Jew

Isaak Babel's Portrait of the Artist as a Former Jew

(p.300) Sixteen Isaak Babel's Portrait of the Artist as a Former Jew
The Jewish Persona in the European Imagination
Stanford University Press

This chapter examines the place of the generative model of “the Jews” in Isaak Babel's artistic self-image through the close reading of his two stories, “Moi pervyi gus” and “Guy de Maupassant.” It discusses Babel's depiction of “the Jews” as epitomizing the physical and spiritual decline of the European male, and considers his fictional and nonfictional writings as a coherent autobiographical narrative that presents in the symbolic language of a post-Christian culture a portrait of the artist as a former Jew. The chapter also argues that Babel's artistic affronts to Jewish and Christian sensibilities indicate his break from the traditional choices of the Russian-Jewish intelligentsia.

Keywords:   Isaak Babel, artistic self-image, generative model, Jews, Moi pervyi gus, Guy de Maupassant, post-Christian culture, Russian-Jewish intelligentsia

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