Page 187 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 11 (1952-1952)

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NIGER — DAVID PINSKI
not as of a class but as of the individual. Even more individualized
and intimate are, of course, the heroes of the love stories which
he wrote.
Pinski was one of the first to bring into Yiddish literature the
motif of love between the sexes as a fundamental motif, not merely
as incidental. In this respect, too, he was a pioneer: for he had
pioneered in describing the struggles between the workers and
their masters. Both the problem of material need and that of love
between the sexes were to him more than literary themes. They
interested him personally. He learned, as he said, “ that the Yid-
dish literature wouldn’t be able to nourish me.”
In March, 1896, he left Warsaw and went to Berlin to study
philosophy, history, literature, and particularly the theatre. In
1899 he wrote his first two dramatic works, the one-act “Agonies”
(“Yisurim”) and the three-act play, “ Isaac Sheftel.” Both dramas
have, like his stories, social themes (conflicts between the older
and younger generations in “Agonies” and antagonisms between
capital and labor in “Sheftel”). Still, of major importance in these
plays are the sufferings of the individual. Isaac does not protest
against his employer, even though the latter exploits for his own
purposes Sheftel’s inventive talent and creative power, besides his
physical labor. Isaac remains contented as long as he has the spirit-
ual satisfaction his achievements bring him. An artist in his field,
his art suffices for him. Only when his material wretchedness, and
particularly the brutal attitude of his employer and the callous
indifference of all the people around him embitter his life so that
he has no more opportunity to give expression to his creative-
inventive ideas, does he become angered and revolts. “ Isaac
Sheftel” is one of Pinski’s finest dramatic creations.
Not having any hopes of seeing his dramas performed in Euro-
pean theatres, Pinski accepted an invitation by an American
Yiddish labor paper, to which he had already contributed, to come
to America and join its editotial staff. Thus from 1899 onwards
his home became America where he lived until 1949, when at the
age of 77 he settled in Israel.
The half-century that Pinski spent in America was particularly
productive in his literary career. Here he edited daily and weekly
newspapers and magazines. Here he took a leading part, first in
the Socialist, and later on in the Zionist-Socialist, movement. He
played an active role in various Yiddish cultural institutions.
But above all he devoted himself to his literary labors. During
this time he managed to write the four-act play, “The Family
Zevi,” whose social importance lies in the fact that it revealed a
new and more positive attitude on the part of the Jewish radical
intelligentsia toward Jewish nationalism after the Kishinev pog-