The Shadows of Berlin: The Berlin Stories of Dovid Bergelson

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9780872864443: The Shadows of Berlin: The Berlin Stories of Dovid Bergelson

Shadows of Berlin is, in part, a bleak chronicle of life in Europe growing ever more hostile at the edge of World War II, part mythic parable. Bergelson’s stories—passionate, honest, dark and often hilarious—hint at the possibility of redemption even as they suggest a horror just around the corner.

Dovid Bergelson (1884–1952) is considered to be one of the best Soviet Yiddish writers of the twentieth century. He was executed in 1952 as part of Stalin’s purge of Soviet Yiddish culture.

Joachim Neugroschel is the winner of three PEN Translation Awards and the French-American Translation Prize. His translations include works by Franz Kafka, Marcel Proust and Thomas Mann.

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About the Author:

Dovid Bergelson, one of the most renowned and influential writers of the 1900s, was born in Ocrimovo, Ukraine, in 1884. In 1952, at the age of 68, after four years of prison, he died a victim of Stalin's police. His work as a writer and literary man spans a period of approximately thirty years.

From Booklist:

*Starred Review* Neugroschel relates in his informative introduction that Bergelson, a notable Yiddish writer from Ukraine, spent 1922 to 1929 in Berlin, where his prolific output of stories included some set in that city. At that time, Berlin was a place of exile for many Yiddish intellectuals, and living there, Bergelson, whose fiction had previously focused on the bleak and wistful decay of the shtetl and on the frustrations of the Jewish bourgeoisie in the czarist realm, now focused on what Neugroschel describes as "individuals trapped in their own isolation and alienation." There are eight stories in this remarkable collection. One, "For 12,000 Bucks He Fasts Forty Days: Scenes of Berlin," deals with a young man sealed under glass in a restaurant, existing only on seltzer and cigarettes. "Among Refugees" concerns a Jewish terrorist tracking the notorious Ukrainian pogromist. "One Night Less" is the tale of a poet who roams the streets of Berlin at night, observing the lonely eccentrics. "The people in this forceful city do not fall into different types and characters--but the streets do," he observes. Bergelson was killed in 1952 in Stalin's final purge of Soviet Yiddish culture. Despite their bleakness, the stories contain some malicious humor. More importantly, they reveal the indomitable Jewish spirit in the face of past suffering and the tragedy to come. George Cohen
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Dovid Bergelson
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