Page 61 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 37

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Sovetish Heimland
were in labor camps and prisons. A lthough it is
unrealistic to expect from these writers tha t they risk writing in a
way which is no t approved by the party and the Union o f Soviet
Writers, they do take advantage of the limited opportun ities
available to express themselves. In this respect Soviet Yiddish
litera tu re is d ifferen t to-day from what it was in the thirties and
partly in the forties, when it was totally reg im en ted and com­
pletely ou t o f the mainstream o f world Yiddish literature.
“Yiddish litera tu re ,” the ed ito r has declared, “cannot separate
the national from the Social, and when one writes about Jews,
they cannot be taken ou t o f the general atmosphere bu t must be
shown as p a r t o f the general milieu. L itera ture must serve — and
does serve — a specific aim. Soviet Yiddish litera tu re is a national
literature because it helps build Socialism.” But ano the r writer,
the novelist Yehiel Shraybman, has maintained tha t while na­
tional form is primarily language, it also signifies “national cha r­
acter, style, m anner o f thinking, even gestures and gesticula­
(Sovetish Heimland,
no. 7, 1971, p. I l l )
Soviet Yiddish literature follows the pa ttern o f Socialist Realism
which maintains tha t all writing should be realistic and should aim
at achieving Socialism. A no ther principle which is stressed is
timeliness or topicality. This means tha t writers should
concentrate on depicting present-day life and its daily problems
and accomplishments. In approach ing the recen t or distant past
they are called upon to deal with it from the con temporary point
o f view. T hus a grea t deal is written about contemporary life, and
life at the beginning o f the twentieth century and du r ing the First
World War is a common theme. In addition to a novel by A.
Kahan dealing with the Beilis trial, considerable attention has
been devoted to World War II, to the atrocities committed by the
Germans, the Jewish participation in the battles, and the struggles
o f the Jewish partisans. Some stories have dea lt with the period of
the “personality cult,” bu t these inevitably find the victims rehabil­
itated and conclude with happy endings. In recen t years, how­
ever, themes relating to the “personality cult” seem to have been
increasingly avoided.
Sovetish Heimland
has published about fifty novels, hund red s o f
novelettes, stories, sketches, reminiscences, and reportages. Most