Music from a Speeding Train: Jewish Literature in Post-Revolution Russia
Music from a Speeding Train explores the uniquely Jewish space created by Jewish authors working within the limitations of the Soviet cultural system. It situates Russian- and Yiddish- language authors in the same literary universe—one in which modernism, revolution, socialist realism, violence, and catastrophe join traditional Jewish texts to provide the framework for literary creativity. These writers represented, attacked, reformed, and mourned Jewish life in the pre-revolutionary shtetl as they created new forms of Jewish culture.
The book emphasizes the Soviet Jewish response to World War II and the Nazi destruction of the Jews, disputing the claim that Jews in Soviet Russia did not and could not react to the killings of Jews. It reveals a largely unknown body of Jewish literature beginning as early as 1942 that responds to the mass killings. By exploring works through the early twenty-first century, the book reveals a complex, emotionally rich, and intensely vibrant Soviet Jewish culture that persisted beyond Stalinist oppression.
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Altman artistic Babel Babi Yar Berdichev Bergelson biblical Birobidzhan body catastrophe Chapter circumcision civil contrast critic dead death Der Nister describes destruction discussion emphasizes Erenburg Estraikh example father Fefer fiction film Finkel’maier friendship of nations Gekht German Gordon Gorenshtein Gorshman Grossman Gulag Hebrew hero hero’s Heshl heymland Holocaust Il’ia Israel Iur’ev Jew’s Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee Jewish culture Jewish literature Kandava Kazakevich language Lipkin literary living Mandelshtam mass killing mayn memory Mikhoels Moscow mother mourning narrative narrator Nazi Neytn Nister novel Pale of Settlement past Perets Markish poem poet poet’s poetry post-Soviet postwar problem published Red Cavalry revolution role Russian translation Russian-Jewish Russian-language scene Second World Sel’vinskii Sholem shtetl Slutskii socialist realism soldiers Soviet culture Soviet Jewish Soviet Jews Soviet Union Soviet Yiddish space Stalin story theme traditional Jewish transformation Ukraine victims violence Vygodskii words writing Yiddish literature Yiddish writers zayn zikh