SINGER, ISRAEL JOSHUA


SINGER, ISRAEL JOSHUA
SINGER, ISRAEL JOSHUA (1893–1944), Yiddish novelist, playwright, and journalist. Born in Bilgoraj, Poland, the son and grandson of rabbis, Singer was the second child of a family of Yiddish writers that included his elder sister, Esther Singer kreitman , and younger brother, isaac bashevis singer . He received a traditional Jewish education and was influenced by the opposing strains of Jewish thought represented by his misnagdic mother and his ḥasidic father. When he was 14, the family moved to the ḥasidic court at Radzimin and then to Warsaw, where Singer worked as an unskilled laborer and proofreader. He studied painting and hid in an artists' atelier to avoid military service. By 1918, when he traveled to the Soviet Union, he had already begun publishing his earliest stories. Returning to Warsaw in late 1921, he was associated with the small, fluid group of writers called Di Khalyastre ("the Gang"), who opposed both social realism and romanticized depictions of Jewish life. Their journal, Khalyastre, included illustrations by marc chagall and poems, stories, and essays by peretz markish , melekh ravitch , uri zvi greenberg , Y. Opatoshu , oser warszawski , david hofshtein , and Singer. When Singer published his most ambitious work up to that time, a short story entitled "Perl" ("Pearls," in Ringen, 1921), he attracted the attention of abraham cahan , the editor of the New York daily Forverts. Singer served as a correspondent for the newspaper, reporting on his travels throughout Poland, the Soviet Union, and, in 1932, the U.S., where he finally settled in 1934. His travelogue, Nay Rusland ("New Russia," 1928), like his subsequent work, appeared first in Forverts. He wrote fiction under his own name and journalistic essays primarily under G. Kuper, his wife's maiden name. His early works included Erd-Vey ("Earth Pangs," 1922), a symbolist drama which was effectively staged in 1923 by the New York Yiddish Art Theater; the short-story collections Perl un Andere Dertseylungen ("Pearls and Other Stories," 1922); and Oyf Fremder Erd ("On Foreign Ground," 1925). His first novel, Shtol un Ayzn (1927; Blood Harvest, 1935, and Steel and Iron, 1969), generated considerable controversy about the place of politics in fiction. Accused of not understanding politics and convinced that his critics were merely political hacks, Singer publicly renounced Yiddish literature, turning to journalism instead. But only four years later he published his second and most successful novel, Yoshe Kalb (1932; The Sinner, 1933, and Yoshe Kalb, 1965), a psychologically astute novel about a man who adopts two personalities and remains, until the end, an enigmatic figure. Savinkov: Drame in 12 Bilder ("Savinkov: a Play in 12 Scenes") appeared in Globus in 1933, before Singer's departure from Poland. He published three more novels after his arrival in the U.S.: Di Brider Ashkenazi (1936; The Brothers Ashkenazi, 1936, 1980); Khaver Nakhmen (1938; East of Eden, 1939); Di Mishpokhe Karnovski (1943; The Family Carnovsky, 1969). Adapted for the stage, Yoshe Kalb was performed in New York in 1932 and became one of the most successful plays ever produced in the Yiddish theater; less successful adaptations of his other novels followed: Di Brider Ashkenazi in 1938, Khaver Nakhmen in 1939, and Di Mishpokhe Karnovski in 1943. In addition, a collection of stories, Friling ("Spring," 1937) appeared in Warsaw and two more posthumous works appeared in New York: his autobiographical memoir, Fun a Velt Vos iz Nishto Mer (1946; Of A World That Is No More, 1970), and Dertseylungen ("Stories," 1949). Singer was a successful and admired literary figure, most of whose works were translated into English during his lifetime. His family sagas, The Brothers Ashkenazi and The Family Carnovsky, written after the rise of Nazism, present a view of Jewish history as inexorably cyclical, repeating itself in every generation, even when the rest of the world moves on. His epic novel, The Brothers Ashkenazi traces the history of twin brothers and of the industrial city of Lodz. Written in the first years of Nazi rule, it ends with World War I, the Russian Revolution, and the establishment of an independent Poland. The fates of the religious and the Marxist, the assimilated and the traditional Jew are all identical. By the time Singer wrote The Family Carnovsky, he was explicitly coming to terms with the   early years of what was already being called in Yiddish khurbn ("Holocaust"). The novel traces three generations through half a century, following the family from a Polish shtetl to Berlin to New York and ending almost at the moment of publication. At the end of the novel, Singer leaves his characters' fates uncertain, a sign of the difficulty of conceiving of a coherent conclusion to the conflicts of the novel and current history. Singer's energies were no doubt elsewhere. His correspondence during the period is full of increasing concern about his family's fate under the Nazis (he could not maintain contact with his mother and youngest brother, caught in the war's upheaval; neither survived the war, though Singer died still uncertain of their fates). Singer's fiction examines the political and cultural upheavals in Jewish life between the two world wars and on two continents. They portray a seemingly endless series of wars, class conflicts, pogroms, shifts in borders, and messianic ideologies, critiquing every one of the many choices available to Jews of the period: traditional religious life, secularism, Yiddish culturalism, Zionism, socialism, even individualism. His primary theme is the ultimately destructive nature of any messianic belief in religious, social, or historical resolutions for the problems that beset the individual and the Jews. His fictions offer no resolutions to the tensions in which his characters find themselves, telling instead of the modern Jewish writer's responsibility to articulate these dilemmas and analyze them. -BIBLIOGRAPHY: I. Howe, in: Commentary, 41:3 (1966), 76–82; C. Madison, Yiddish Literature (1968), 452–78; I.B. Singer, Mayn Tatn's Beys-Din Shtub (1950), passim; Yoshe Kalb (1965), v–x (introduction by I.B. Singer); M. Ravitch, in: JBA, 26 (1968), 121–3; Sh. Bickel, in: Zamlbikher, 6 (1945), 444–8; idem, Shrayber fun Mayn Dor, 1 (1958), 317–27; LNYL, 3 (1960), 640–6; N. Mayzel, Noente un Vayte, 2 (1926), 233–9; idem, Forgeyer un Mittsaytler (1946), 372–93; B. Rivkin, Undzere Prozaiker (1951), 264–73; A. Zeitlin, in: I.J. Singer, Fun a Velt Vos iz Nishto Mer (1946), 5–12. ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: C. Sinclair, The Brothers Singer (1983); A. Norich, The Homeless Imagination in the Fiction of I.J. Singer (1991). (Anita Norich (2nd ed.)

Encyclopedia Judaica. 1971.

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  • Singer, Israel Joshua — (1893–1944)    Yiddish novelist. Son of a Polish rabbi and the older brother of Isaac Bashevis Singer, Israel began writing for Yiddish papers first in Warsaw and then in Kiev. In 1933 he emigrated to the United States and wrote plays for the New …   Who’s Who in Jewish History after the period of the Old Testament

  • Singer, Israel Joshua — (1893 1944)    Polish Yiddish novelist and playwright, brother of Isaac Bashevis Singer and Esther Kreitman. He was born in BLgoraj, Poland, and lived in Warsaw and Kiev. He settled in the US in 1937. His writings include Yoshe Kalb and The… …   Dictionary of Jewish Biography

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  • Israel Joshua Singer — (November 30, 1893, Biłgoraj, Poland February 10, 1944 New York) was a Yiddish novelist. He was born Yisroel Yehoyshue (Yeshue) Zinger the son of Pinchas Mendl Zinger, a rabbi and author of rabbinic commentaries, and Basheva Zylberman. He was the …   Wikipedia

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  • Israel Yehoshua Singer — Israel Joshua Singer, foto tomada por Carl Van Vechten, 1938 Israel Joshua Singer (30 de noviembre de 1893, Biłgoraj, Polonia 10 de febrero de 1944, New York), fue un novelista judío polaco en lengua idish. Nacido como Yisroel Yehoyshue Zinger, e …   Wikipedia Español

  • Israel Joschua Singer — Israel Joschua Singer, 1938 Israel Joschua Singer (auch: Israel Joshua, Israel Jehoschua oder Israel Josua Singer; * 30. November[1] 1893 in Biłgoraj; † 10. Februar 1944 in New York) war ein bedeutender jiddi …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • SINGER (I. B.) — Peu avant de recevoir le prix Nobel de littérature, au mois d’octobre 1978, Isaac Bashevis Singer déclarait: «Je suis presque le dernier écrivain yiddish...» En couronnant Singer, l’Académie suédoise a voulu non seulement attirer l’attention sur… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

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