Kiev: Kultur-Lige, 1930. Item #1227
221,  pp. 21x15 cm. In original constructivist wrappers. Uncut. Fragment of the spine lost, tears of covers, contemporary Ukrainian institute stamps and notes, otherwise very good.
Lifetime edition. One of 3000 copies. In Yiddish.
This book came out as a part of a Kultur-Lige series ‘Bibliotek Yidishe shrayber’ [Library of Yiddish Writers], issue 14, with the introduction by Jewish literary critic Boris Orshanskii (1884-1945). Constructivist cover design combines typographic linear borders and a drawn element. All issues of the series were published in the similar designs differing the main color only.
Founded in Kiev in early 1918, an organization Kultur Lige enlisted practically all the Yiddish cultural, political, scholarly figures of any fame that lived in Ukraine. It rapidly increased the number of independent branches outside Ukraine and gained the leading position in Jewish social and cultural life. Jewish kindergartens, schools, evening courses, art and theatrical sections were formed. Yet, the Kiev organization dominated, due to a variety of activities and notable contributors. Among them were Marc Chagall, El Lissitzky, Peretz Markish, Mark Epstein, Nathan Altman, Robert Falk, Solomon Nikritin, Abram Manevich, David Shterenberg and many other masters. The Kultur-lige Press was founded in early 1920 and published books from classic Yiddish authors to atomic physics. Soon after the Bolshevik takeover of Ukraine, almost all the institutions of the Kultur-League were forcibly taken away by the Soviet authorities and handed over to the Jewish Sections of the People’s Commissariat for Education. The Soviet Kultur-lige existed as the publishing house until 1924, mainly focusing on Yiddish textbooks for children. The Press was officially closed down in 1931.
This very rare edition consists of 17 works by writer and playwright David Pinski (1872-1959). He was born in the Russian Empire and tried his hand at writing in Russian since he was 13 years old. Seven years later Pinski went to study in Vienna but soon quit it. In Warsaw Pinski had met Isaac Peretz and began his lifelong associations with the Jewish workers’ movement. Peretz’s circle was developing new and radical approaches to modern Yiddish literature. This approach influenced Pinski’s creative output in those years. He became one of the main contributors to ‘Yontev-bletlekh’ (1894-1896) and to the anthology ‘Literatur un lebn’ (1894), publications under Peretz’s editorship that played a pioneering role in disseminating radical and socialist thought among Jewish workers, to the extent possible under tsarist censorship. Peretz and Pinski positioned themselves quite close to the founders of the Jewish labor movement in Eastern Europe, and laid the foundation for Jewish worker literature in its various genres: serious fiction, popular scientific articles, and feuilletons. (Yivo Encyclopedia of Jews in Eastern Europe)
In 1899, Pinski emigrated to the USA where he wrote for and edited several Jewish labour periodicals. His propaganda plays could not be officially published and performed in Imperial Russia, but circulated in secret and were shown through amateur productions. After the 1917 Revolution, his works were highly accepted by the Soviet authorities. In 1918, his play ‘Der Eibiger Yied’ [The Enternal Jew] was to be the first play ever performed by the Habima Theater in Moscow (now the National Theater of Israel).
Only 2 paper copies are located in LoC and Harvard University.