Babel, Isaac Emmanuilovich

(1894–1941)
   Russian writer. Babel was given a traditional Jewish education in his home town of Odessa. With the Russian Revolution, he joined the armed forces and spent some time as a political commissar with the Cossack cavalry on the Polish front. After that he held various posts in the new regime until 1923, when he devoted himself fully to a writing career. In 1939, he was arrested and disappeared, like so many Jewish intellectuals purged under the Stalin regime.
   What survives of his works are collections of short stories, two plays, and some personal correspondence and autobiographical material. The stories straddle the two conflicting worlds in which Babel was involved - the disintegrating Jewish life of Odessa, and the rough Cossack horsemen with their physical, non- intellectual qualities. They were written with a subtle style and sharply etched perception that make Babel one of the modern masters of the short story form, ranking with Maupassant.
   His writings that have appeared in English translations are Red Cavalry (1929), Collected Stories (1955), The Lonely Years (1964), and You Must Know Everything (1969).

Who’s Who in Jewish History after the period of the Old Testament. . 2012.

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