The Crackpot Ideas of Yiddish Fiction's Most Improbable Scenarios Become Real

S. Ansky’s radical yeshiva boys used to seem unreal. But observing today’s political scene has taught me to understand them.

S. Ansky. Via Yiddishkayt.

S. Ansky. Via Yiddishkayt.

Ruth R. Wisse
COLUMN
Sept. 9 2021
About Ruth

Ruth R. Wisse is a Mosaic columnist, professor emerita of Yiddish and comparative literatures at Harvard and a distinguished senior fellow at the Tikvah Fund. Her memoir Free as a Jew: a Personal Memoir of National Self-Liberation, chapters of which appeared in Mosaic in somewhat different form, is out from Wicked Son Press.

When I began reading Yiddish literature in the 1960s, I came across a scenario so improbable that I wondered whether any such thing could actually have occurred. The work was “Behind a Mask” by S. Ansky (best known as the author of The Dybbuk), and the fictive incident was presumably based on his own observations as a budding revolutionary in Russia in the 1880s.

Create a free account to continue reading

Welcome to Mosaic

Create a free account to continue reading and you'll get two months of unlimited access to the best in Jewish thought, culture, and politics

Register

Create a free account to continue reading

Welcome to Mosaic

Create a free account to continue reading and you'll get two months of unlimited access to the best in Jewish thought, culture, and politics

Register

More about: Israel & Zionism, Politics & Current Affairs, Progressivism, Yiddish literature