The Dybbuk and Other Writings by S. Ansky

The Dybbuk and Other Writings by S. Ansky

S. Ansky
Edited and with an Introduction by David G. Roskies
With translations by Golda Werman
Copyright Date: 2002
Published by: Yale University Press
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  • Book Info
    The Dybbuk and Other Writings by S. Ansky
    Book Description:

    This volume presents The Dybbuk, S. Ansky's well-known drama of mystical passion and demonic possession, along with little-known works of his autobiographical and fantastical prose fiction and an excerpt from his four-volume chronicle of the Eastern Front in the First World War, The Destruction of Galacia.

    eISBN: 978-0-300-14562-5
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. xi-xxxvi)
    David G. Roskies

    When Solomon Rappoport fled the Bolsheviks disguised as a priest and reached the German-occupied city of Vilna aboard a refugee train, he was a broken man. A lifetime of service to the revolutionary cause in his native land and abroad had been cut short by Lenin’s seizure of power in January 1918. As a deputy to the All-Russian Constituent Assembly on the Socialist-Revolutionary ticket, Rappoport was now a fugitive. Worse still, the Bolsheviks impounded the treasures of the Jewish Ethnographic Museum in Petrograd on whose premises he had lived. The Moscow Art Theater’s premiere performance of The Dybbuk—the indisputable...

  5. The Dybbuk, or Between Two Worlds: A DRAMATIC LEGEND IN FOUR ACTS
    (pp. 1-50)

    Total darkness. Before the curtain is raised, a soft, mystical chant is heard, as if from afar:

    Why, oh why did the soul plunge

    From the upmost heights

    To the lowest depths?

    The seed of redemption

    Is contained within the fall.

    The curtain rises slowly, revealing an ancient wooden synagogue, its walls blackened with age. Two wooden posts support the roof; an old brass lamp hangs from the center of the ceiling above the pulpit, which is covered with a dark cloth. A long bench stands against the rear wall under the small windows, which open into the women’s gallery....

  6. Stories and Sketches
      (pp. 53-70)

      The drunken gang spilled out of the tavern and dispersed in the alley, stomping in the soggy mud. Except for the women tavernkeepers, only two gentile “regulars” of the Whirlpool Inn remained inside, Axinya and Glashka. The first, a disheveled hag with a black eye, sat on the floor in a drunken fever. She kept shouting disconnected words and phrases. The younger woman, Glashka, was uncharacteristically sober. She busied herself scraping the floorboards with an iron shovel, removing whole clumps of dirt.

      Malke squatted behind the bar lining up the empty bottles that her granddaughter, Khanke, handed to her over...

      (pp. 70-76)

      At the beginning of 1881 I left Vitebsk, my birthplace, to become a tutor in the town of Liozno. Seventeen years old, this was the first independent act in my life, but I abounded in dashing self-reliance and was greatly inspired by the high ideals which lit up my vision. About a year earlier, I had left the straight and narrow; I became engrossed in worldly books and turned into an ardent maskil. I was then most influenced by Lilienblum’s Hattot Ne’urim (The Sins of Youth)

      I did not go to Liozno so much to teach as to spread Haskalah...

    • HUNGER
      (pp. 76-93)

      When I was twenty and studying for my entrance examinations to the university I lived for a while in a town in White Russia, far from home. I had long been estranged from my fanatically religious parents and had nothing to do with the local Jewish community, so I was on my own, as free as a bird. I supported myself by giving private lessons.

      All in all, I enjoyed my life. I had an intimate circle of friends with whom I spent endless hours in discussions and debates. My head was full of ideas for solving the problems of...

      (pp. 93-117)

      In the summer and fall of 1877, at the height of the Russo-Turkish War, I was tutoring in one of the outlying Lithuanian towns where I lived a very lonely existence. One day, on my way home for lunch, I saw a sight that made me stop in my tracks. A young man whom I didn’t know, wearing a skullcap but no jacket, had pushed his head through the open window of my room and, with both hands on my table for support, was reading the Russian newspaper that I had left there. When I approached him, he raised his...

      (pp. 118-144)

      Anton Kovadle’s ramshackle house in the gentile section of V――was considered the center of the town’s heretical activity. Known to the pious as “The Nest of Abomination,” it had achieved almost legendary fame. Whenever elderly Jews had to walk past the house, they hitched up their coats, turned aside, and quickened their pace, sometimes even spitting as they went by. The women walked past slowly, shaking their heads mournfully and muttering softly. But if a high-pitched argument was heard from inside, or a chorus of male voices harmonizing a sad, sentimental ballad, the frightened women scurried across the street.


      (pp. 145-150)

      A few years before the war, during the heat of the reactionary period in Russia. I was traveling by train between Vilna and Warsaw when I met an old acquaintance whom I hadn’t seen for seven or eight years. In the old days he called himself Afanasi and always behaved as if he were in the midst of a conspiracy; he was clean-shaven then and used to wear Russian peasant blouses. Now he was dressed in a European-style suit and had a dignified beard—and he had reverted back to his Jewish name. Moshe Silberzweig.

      In Switzerland we used to...

      (pp. 151-168)

      From the earliest times there stood in Rome, the capital of the land of Edom, a great tower of indescribable beauty. In the tower there were four gates, facing each of the four sides of the world. All the gates were blocked and bolted with iron bolts and locked with locks so that no living soul could penetrate into the tower, and no one knew what was inside it. From ancient times there was a custom that each emperor, following his coronation, had to have a new lock attached to each gate; no one knew why this was done, but...

  7. The Destruction of Galicia: Excerpts from a Diary, 1914–17
    (pp. 169-208)

    The plight of the defenseless Jewish population of Galicia and their horrendous treatment at the hands of the invading Russian army, especially the Cossacks and the Circassians, became known to us right at the beginning of the war [1914] through snatches of information that reached us. The occupation was swift; Galicia was overrun all the way to Prague in the west and to Hungary in the south within two or three months. A large part of Brody was burned, the Jews were robbed and some were killed—all in response to a provocateur’s shot. Belz and Husiatyn were completely destroyed....

  8. Bibliographical Note
    (pp. 209-210)
  9. Notes
    (pp. 211-218)
  10. Glossary
    (pp. 219-220)