Page 185 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 11 (1952-1952)

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179
NIGER — DAVID PINSKI
he says in a chapter of his autobiography (which has not yet been
published in full) “ I became a ‘writer’. Even when I wrote my
letters to my father in Moscow I already knew that I was ‘author-
ing’ and that I should be ‘authoring’.”
At the age of twelve, when he was still in Mohilev, he wrote a
theatrical piece into which he wove some popular songs. His
comrades who could sing a little performed the piece (for the bene-
fit of some charity); he himself was the prompter. Later on, in
Vitebsk and in Moscow, he began to make plans for stories and
novels, and succeeded in carrying out some of these plans. He
also began to write poetry.
Strongly influenced by the current Yiddish and Russian litera-
ture, which was often realistically satirical, while full of love for
the working people, Pinski from the very beginning wrote in the
spirit and style of the realistic, folk-influenced literature which
sought an artistic expression for its social-revolutionary ideals.
But everything that he then wrote was still in manuscript
unpublished.
He began to publish his writings only after he left Vitebsk in
1891 for Vienna for the purpose of entering a medical college. On
the way to Vienna he stopped in Warsaw. There, in the first
place, he had to collect a debt for his father, money which would
provide for his living expenses abroad. In the second place, he
knew of an important address in Warsaw — Zegliana 1, the home
of I. L. Peretz.
He wanted to hear Peretz’s opinion of his writings. Peretz’s
opinion was favorable, and there developed a friendship between
the older and the younger writer which grew to rich significance
both for the first period of Pinski’s literary creativity and also for
Peretz’s literary efforts in the ‘nineties’ of the past century.
Pinski did not remain long in Vienna. In 1892 the Czarist
Government expelled his father, together with many other Jews,
from Moscow. This expulsion ruined his father financially, so
that he could not send any more money to his son studying abroad.
Pinski, as he himself relates, had to keep body and soul together
on the six guldens a month which he received from the widow of
Peretz Smolenskin (a celebrated Hebrew writer) as Hebrew
teacher for her sons.
Pinski returned to Warsaw, where his parents had meanwhile
settled. While in Vienna, in 1892, he had written one of his very
first social satires, “The Great Humanitarian.” This was one of
the stories with which two years later he made his debut in Yiddish
prose literature. (He had begun to publish poetry a year earlier,
in 1893). He was then in Warsaw, to which he came for the second
time after enduring a year of hardship in the Austrian capital.