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Four generations are depicted in riveting and often uproarious detail as they face the profound changes brought on by the demands of the Soviet regime and its collectivist, radical secularism.

The Zelmenyaners

The resultant intergenerational showdowns including disputes over the introduction of electricity, radio, or electric trolley are rendered with humor, pathos, and a finely controlled satiric pen. Moyshe Kulbak, a contemporary of the Soviet Jewish writer Isaac Babel, picks up where Sholem Aleichem left off a generation before, exploring in this book the transformation of Jewish life. Additional Product Features Dewey Edition. His characters are funny and pathetic, his prose delicate and inventive.

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His novel ushers the reader not into Soviet Belorussia, but into a world entirely its own. Kulbak brings a poignancy to his observations of a family, and a place, for which he clearly feels much affection.

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Just Ask! The original Yiddish novel is available in two volumes on our website: volume 1 ; volume 2. Today this sheet of paper is most interesting as ephemera.


The Yiddish newspaper the Forverts Forward also made this short biographical video about Kulbak. The video is narrated by the former editor of the Forverts , Boris Sandler, in his beautiful Besserabian Yiddish. It features English subtitles: Moshe Kulbak. Video of Moshe Kulbak. The entire interview with Harshav is a treasure, and a brilliant introduction to the city Kulbak is most associated with, Vilna.

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Although not explicitly about Kulbak, this clip from the Wexler Oral History Project provides added context. Kulbak was killed during Stalin's "great purges.

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  4. On Translating "The Zelmenyaners". Moyshe Kulbak — was a Yiddish poet, novelist, and dramatist. Born in Smorgon near Vilna, he received a traditional Jewish education.

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    At the age of twenty-three, he published his first book of poems in Vilna, then settled in Berlin where he became familiar with contemporary currents in European literature, particularly Expressionism. In , Kulbak returned to Vilna to become one of the most popular figures in Yiddish cultural life, appointed to, among other positions, the chairmanship of the newly founded Yiddish PEN Club.

    Despite his great popularity as a teacher, writer, and lecturer, in , Kulbak moved to Soviet Minsk, lured by the presence of much of his family and by the state sponsorship of Yiddish culture.