Gateway to S, A. Ansky (a k a An-sky) on The Reading Life
Pioneers: A Tale of Russian Jewish Life in the 1880s - by S. A. An-sky - 1909 - translated from Yiddish by Michael Katz - 2014
October 27, 1863 - Chashniki, Belarus
1909 -publishes Pioneers: A Tale of Russian-Jewish Life in the 1880s
1914- The Dybbuk premiers, now indisputably considered the most influential and powerful Yiddish Language dramatic work (see my post for details)
His name is sometimes rendered as Ansky or An-Ski. His real name was
Shloyme Zanvl Rappoport
He was a very prolific writer in multiple genres and an accomplished authority on Russian-Jewish folklore, especially music. He wrote a four volume work based on the diary of his World War One experiences. He traveled widely and offended many by his late life conversion to Christianity. He described himself as a man on the border between Russian and Jewish Culture, traditional ways and revolution, Paris and Warsaw. Pioneers focuses on a week in the life of a group of young men who have left home to make their way in the big city. They are all intellectuals, readers of classic Jewish works as well as Russian authors. It was fun to listen to them debate the merits of Dostoevsky and Turgenev versus Jewish writers nobody outside of academic specialist any longer reads. In his very learned footnoted Katz explains all these references. The boys are in rebellion, making a big thing out of eating pick and drinking on holy days. Lots of complaining about their parents.
The big drama in the plot comes when they learn a young woman they know is set to be forced into a marriage to a man she cannot stand. The men begin to develop ways to prevent the marriage.
There is lots of drama and interesting things in this book. For those just getting into Yiddish literature, I would suggest you first start with The Dybbuk and Other Writings S. Ansky Edited and with an Introduction by David G. Roskies With translations by Golda Werman, Yale University Press New Haven and London
As you advance in your readings, for sure add Pioneers: A Tale of Russian Jewish Life in the 1880s to your list.