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Der Nister's Work 1907-1929

A Study of a Yiddish Symbolist


Delphine Bechtel

This book examines the symbolist tales of Der Nister (1884-1950), a Soviet Yiddish writer who wrote before and after the Revolution in the USSR, and in Berlin in the 1920s. It offers various intertextual readings of the tales, determining the influence of the French and Russian symbolist movements and the Jewish folk and art-tale, and retracing the political and artistic background of Jewish modernism in the Soviet Union and in Berlin in the 1920s. Drawing on various literary theories, it also investigates the narrative structure of Der Nister's tales, based on the midrashic mashal-nimshal figure, as well as his sophisticated use of symbol and allegory. Finally, it examines the intrusion of the economics of modernity (the city, the masses, inflation) which leads to the disintegration of the system of allegorical symbolism, the collapse of storytelling, and Der Nister's final renunciation of symbolism.
Contents: Yiddish literature - Jewish modernism in Berlin and in the Soviet Union.