Page 177 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 44

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GOLDSMITH /THE SIGNIFICANCE OF ZALMAN SHNEOUR
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the secretary o f Yitzkhok Leybush Peretz and also came under
the influence o f the poet and critic David Frishman. Lonely and
dissatisfied with his work, Shneour returned to Shklov in 1903
but left again a year later, this time for Vilna. In the “Jerusalem o f
Lithuania,” which he was to celebrate in a magnificent poem, he
was employed on the editorial staff o f a Hebrew newspaper until
it was forced to close at the time o f the Russian revolution o f 1905.
In 1906 the first volume o f Shneour’s poems was published and
highly praised by Bialik. The poet then travelled to Switzerland,
the scene o f his celebrated cycle o f nature poems entitled “ In the
Mountains,” and to France where he studied literature and natu­
ral sciences at the Sorbonne. Here, too, he wrote his famous cycle,
“On the Bank o f the Seine.”
Shneour decided not to complete his university studies and
instead devoted himself to the writing and publishing o f his
poems and stories in Hebrew and Yiddish. He also travelled
widely throughout Europe and North Africa. When World War I
broke out the poet was arrested and detained in Germany as a
Russian citizen. In Germany, where he remained until his return
to Paris in 1924, he pursued medical studies and worked in a hos­
pital. The rising tide o f German anti-Semitism appalled Shneour
and prompted his prophetic vision o f worse horrors to come in
the poem “The Middle Ages are Approaching.”
After much suffering at the beginning o f World War II,
Shneour came to the United States in 1941. Here he continued
his literary pursuits, his serialized novels appearing regularly in
the Yiddish
Daily Forward.
In Hebrew he published, among other
works,
Hidden Tablets,
a volume o f poems which appeared to
many to anticipate the discovery o f the Dead Sea scrolls in 1947.
In 1951 the poet settled in Israel where he found new inspiration
for his writing until his death in 1959. Shneour’s collected writ­
ings in Hebrew have appeared in ten volumes (1958-1959) and in
a two-volume folio edition. An anthology o f his Yiddish poems
appeared in 1945 and fourteen volumes o f his Yiddish prose
were published or republished between 1944 and 1970. Shortly
before his death, Shneour gave an interview in which he said that
in addition to the sixty volumes he had published during his life­
time, he had produced another eight unpublished volumes o f
about 400 pages each.
Early in his career Shneour was acknowledged as a member o f
the classical triumverate o f modern Hebrew poetry together with