Babel, Isaak Emmanuilovich

Babel, Isaak Emmanuilovich

▪ Russian author
born July 13 [July 1, Old Style], 1894, Odessa, Ukraine, Russian Empire
died Jan. 27, 1940, Moscow, Russia, U.S.S.R.
 Soviet short-story writer noted for his war stories and Odessa tales. He was considered an innovator in the early Soviet period and enjoyed a brilliant reputation in the early 1930s.

      Born into a Jewish family, Babel grew up in an atmosphere of persecution that is reflected in the sensitivity, pessimism, and morbidity of his stories. His first works, later included in his Odesskiye rasskazy (“Odessa Tales”), were published in 1916 in St. Petersburg in a monthly edited by Maksim Gorky; but the tsarist censors considered them crude and obscene. Gorky praised the young author's terse, naturalistic style, at the same time advising him to “see the world.” Babel proceeded to do so, serving in the Cossack First Cavalry Army and in the political police (Babel's daughter denied this), working for newspapers, and holding a number of other jobs over the next seven years. Perhaps his most significant experience was as a soldier in the war with Poland. Out of that campaign came the group of stories known as Konarmiya (1926; Red Cavalry). These stories present different aspects of war through the eyes of an inexperienced, intellectual young Jew who reports everything graphically and with naive precision. Though senseless cruelty often pervades the stories, they are lightened by a belief that joy and happiness must exist somewhere, if only in the imagination.

      The “Odessa Tales” were published in book form in 1931. This cycle of realistic and humorous sketches of the Moldavanka—the ghetto suburb of Odessa—vividly portrays the lifestyle and jargon of a group of Jewish bandits and gangsters, led by their “king,” the legendary Benya Krik.

      Babel wrote other short stories, as well as two plays (Zakat, 1928; Mariya, 1935). In the early 1930s his literary reputation in the Soviet Union was high, but, in the atmosphere of increasing Stalinist cultural regimentation, Communist critics began to question whether his works were compatible with official literary doctrine. After the mid-1930s Babel lived in silence and obscurity. His last published work in the Soviet Union was a short tribute to Gorky in 1938. His powerful patron had died in 1936; in May 1939 Babel was arrested, and he was executed some eight months later. After Stalin's death in 1953, Babel was rehabilitated, and his stories were again published in the Soviet Union.

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Universalium. 2010.

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  • Babel, Isaak (Emmanuilovich) — born July 13, 1894, Odessa, Ukraine, Russian Empire died March 17, 1941, Siberia, Russia, U.S.S.R. Russian short story writer. Born Jewish in Ukraine, Babel grew up in an atmosphere of persecution that is reflected in his stories. Maksim Gorky… …   Universalium

  • Bábel, Isaak (Emmanuílovich) — (13 jul. 1894, Odessa, Ucrania, Imperio ruso–17 mar. 1941, Siberia, Rusia, URSS). Cuentista ruso. Nació en el seno de una familia judía de Ucrania, Bábel creció bajo una atmósfera de persecución, la que se ve reflejada en sus cuentos. Máximo… …   Enciclopedia Universal

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  • Russia — /rush euh/, n. 1. Also called Russian Empire. Russian, Rossiya. a former empire in E Europe and N and W Asia: overthrown by the Russian Revolution 1917. Cap.: St. Petersburg (1703 1917). 2. See Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. 3. See Russian… …   Universalium

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  • List of playwrights — List of notable playwrights.See also Literature; Drama; List of playwrights by nationality and date of birth; Lists of authors NOTOC A Ab Al*George Abbot (1887 1995) (United States) *Kjeld Abell (1901 1961) (Denmark) *Marcel Achard (1899 1974)… …   Wikipedia

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