Studies of the Simon Dubnow Institute, Volume 9
Die Rückkehr des Štetl.
Russisch-jüdische Literatur der späten Sowjetzeit
307 pp. with 5 illustrations
Hardcover with dust jacket
Göttingen: Vandenhock & Ruprecht, 2008
Price: 52,00 € (D)
Volume 9 in the Publication Series »Schriften des Simon-Dubnow-Instituts« is a study by Olaf Terpitz. It investigates one of the best-known topoi of Russian-Jewish history, the shtetl. His analysis does not deal, however, with the nineteen twenties, often associated with this topic, but rather the late Soviet era. In this context, Terpitz's analysis is oriented less to texts of nostalgic remembrance than to a discourse grounded on theoretical and literary reflection, showing a very specific cultural significance for the Soviet-Russian present.
The author seeks to place Shtetl Discourse in a historical frame, and links this with an interpretation, through the prism of literary studies, of a number of key texts from this period. These include in particular Anatoly Rybakov's novel Heavy Sand (1981; Tyazhely Pesok, 1979), the stories »Gypsy Camp« and »Annual Fair« by Boris Yampolsky, and the novels of Grigory Kanovich and Oleg Yurev. The Shtetl Discourse investigated in these texts was opposed to dogmatic communist conceptions of equality, was critical of aspects of Russian culture, and reflected in literary form the Jewish identity of the authors.