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Isaac Babel

Isaac Babel

Isaac Emmanuilovich Babel (1894-1940) was a Russian language journalist, playwright, literary translator, and short story writer. Babel has been acclaimed as “the greatest prose writer of Russian Jewry.” His stories are a touching, profound and humorous testimony of his experiences during the Russian Civil War and the war between the Soviet Union and Poland, that took place in the Pale of Settlement, and also of Jewish life in Odessa and, of Russia during the first years after the October Revolution. Loyal to, but not uncritical of, the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, Isaac Babel fell victim to Joseph Stalin’s Great Purge due to his long term affair with the wife of NKVD chief Nikolai Yezhov. Babel was arrested by the NKVD at Peredelkino on the night of May 15, 1939. After “confessing,” under torture, of being a Trotskyist terrorist and foreign spy, Babel was shot on January 27, 1940. The arrest and execution of Isaac Babel have been labeled a catastrophe for world literature.

 

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