The Essential Fictions

The Essential Fictions

Paperback(New Edition)

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The Essential Fictions offers contemporary readers seventy-two short stories by one of twentieth-century Russia’s premier storytellers, Isaac Babel. This unique volume, which includes Babel’s famous Red Cavalry series and his Odessa Stories, is translated, edited, introduced, and annotated by Val Vinokur, a 2008 Guggenheim Fellow in Translation, and features illustrations by Yefim Ladyzhensky, a painter known for his depictions of everyday life under Soviet rule in Babel’s native Odessa.

Babel was born in 1894 into multicultural Odessa’s thriving Jewish community. Working as a journalist, he witnessed the Bolshevik Revolution and Civil War, and accompanied the Cossack horsemen of the Red Cavalry during the 1920 Polish-Soviet War, distilling these experiences into his fiction. Vinokur highlights Babel’s “horrified hopefulness” and “doleful and bespectacled Jewish comedy” in the face of the bloody conflicts that plagued his generation.

On the centenary of the revolution that toppled the Romanov tsars, Babel’s fictions continue to absorb and fascinate contemporary readers interested in eastern European and Jewish literature as well as the history and politics of the twentieth century.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780810135956
Publisher: Univ of Chicago Behalf Northwestern Univ Pres
Publication date: 11/15/2017
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 424
Sales rank: 651,486
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

ISAAC BABEL (1894–1940) is best known for his short fiction, especially his tales about the Jewish gangsters of Odessa and the Cossacks of the Red Cavalry. A contemporary, Viktor Shklovsky, once described Babel as writing “in the same tone about the stars and gonorrhea.” Babel was executed on Stalin’s orders in 1940 in the wake of the Great Purge.
YEFIM LADYZHENSKY (1911–1982) began his career as a set designer, but devoted his life to painting after encountering Babel’s fiction, which he described as having played for him “the same role that the Bible and myths did for a multitude of artists—a reason and a stimulus for expressing my feelings and experiences.” When he emigrated from Odessa to Jerusalem in 1979, the Soviet government impounded his Babel-inspired paintings. To make up for their loss, he quickly completed the eighteen richly detailed drawings for Red Cavalry that are included in this volume.
VAL VINOKUR is an associate professor of literary studies, chair of liberal arts, and director of Jewish culture at The New School, where he also leads workshops in literary translation. He is the author of The Trace of Judaism: Dostoevsky, Babel, Mandelstam, Levinas (Northwestern University Press, 2008), and has translated several novels from the French with Rose-Myriam Réjouis.

Table of Contents

Translators: Forward! (and Backwards)
Shabbos Nahamu
Elya Isaakovich and Margarita Prokofyevna
Mama, Rimma, and Alla
Through a Crack
The Sin of Jesus
Line and Color
Bagrat-Ogly and the Eyes of His Bull
My First Advance
Guy de Maupassant
The Road
Childhood. At Grandmothers
The Story of My Dovecot
First Love
In the Basement
Di Grasso
The King
How It Was Done in Odessa
The Father
Justice in Brackets
Lyubka the Cossack
Froim the Rook
The End of the Poorhouse
You Missed the Boat, Captain!
The Crossing of the Zbruch
The Church at Novograd
A Letter
Chief of the Remount Service
Pan Apolek
The Sun of Italy
My First Goose
The Rebbe
The Road to Brody
A Teaching on the Tachanka
Dolgushov’s Death
Brigcom Two
Sashka Christ
The Life Story of Pavlichenko, Matvei Rodionych
The Cemetery in Kozin
The Story of a Horse
Afonka Bida
At Saint Valentine’s
Squadron Commander Trunov
The Ivans
The Story of a Horse, Continued
The Widow
After the Battle
The Song
The Rebbe’s Son
The Kiss
Our Batko Makhno
The End of St. Hypatius
Dante Street
The Trial (from a notebook)
The Ivan & Marya
Gapa Guzhva: The First Chapter from the “Velikaya Krinitsa” Book
Kolyvushka (from the “Velikaya Staritsa” book)

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