Moscow: Der Emes, 1948. Item #1132
94 pp.: ill. Later binding, original wrappers are preserved. Wrappers soiled and rubbed, otherwise very good.
A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH OF ONE OF THE MOST PROMINENT SOVIET JEWISH ACTORS SOLOMON MIKHOELS (1890-1948).
Written by the Soviet art and theatrical critic Yakov Grinval’d, this book traces the life and artistic legacy of the director of the Moscow State Jewish Theatre Solomon Mikhoels. In 1918, Mikhoels joined Alexis Granowsky’s Jewish Theater Workshop, which, having moved to Moscow, was transformed into the Moscow State Jewish Theater (1925). At the time, the Soviet Union was implementing the policy on nationalities that encouraged Jews, among others, to pursue and develop their own culture under the aegis of the Soviet State. Against this background, after playing numerous successful roles at the theatre (The Travels of Benjamin III, directed by Alexander Granovsky in 1927; Night at Old Market; directed by Alexander Granovsky in 1925; etc.), Mikhoels was able to travel to Germany, France, Belgium, Netherlands, and Austria. From 1929, Solomon was appointed the role of the artistic director of the theatre, which he held up until his death, producing some of the most famous plays of the GOSET (Four days in 1931; The Ovadis Family in 1927; Mukanna in 1943, etc.). In the years of World War II, Mikhoels was actively involved in the fight against fascism, becoming the first chairman of the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee. Mikhoels’ political and theatrical activity was cut short in 1948, when the director, together with the theatre critic Golubov-Potapov, died in a car accident in Minsk. Nevertheless, some authors claim that his death was staged on Stalin’s personal orders, and ‘disguised as a hit-and-run car accident’.
Publication of this book can be considered a rare occasion as after the end of World War II the Soviet Union launched a massive campaign against Jews. From the late 1940s, books in Yiddish and about Jews were banned from printing and antisemitism became a state policy.
The edition features 16 full-page illustrations depicting Mikhoels in the role of Alter in Granovsky’s 1921 production Mazel Tov, Mikhoels in the role of Gotsmakh in Granovsky’s 1922 production Witch, Mikhoels in the role of Benjamin III in Granovsky’s 1927 production the Travels of Benjamin III, Mikhoels and Soviet actress Valeriya Barsova, etc.
The book was translated into Yiddish and published in Moscow the same year.
Worldcat shows copies of the edition at Harvard University, Mount Holyoke College, Columbia University Libraries, Yivo Institute for Jewish Research, Library of Congress, University of Chicago Library, University of Kentucky Libraries, Stanford University Libraries, University of Southern California, and Syracuse University.