Never before available in English, Judgment is a work of startling power by David Bergelson, the most celebrated Yiddish prose writer of his era. Originally published in 1929 and set in 1920 during the Russian civil war, Judgment traces the death of the shtetl and the birth of the "new, harsher world" created by the 1917 revolution. Jews and non-Jews smuggle people, goods, and anti-Bolshevik literature back and forth across the new political border. Filipov acts as the arbiter of "judgment" to prisoners in a Bolshevik outpost, who include Spivak, a counterrevolutionary; Lemberger, a pious and wealthy Jew; a seductive woman referred to as "the blonde"; and a memorable cast of smugglers and criminals. Ordinary people, depicted in a grotesque and modernist style--comparable to Isaac Babel's Red Cavalry--confront the overwhelming forces of history, whose ultimate outcome remains unknown.
About the Author
DAVID BERGELSON (1884-1952), a Jewish novelist, short-story writer, and literary editor, was born in Ukraine. He moved to Berlin in 1921 and traveled throughout Europe and the United States until Hitler came to power in Germany. He returned to the Soviet Union in 1934, where he was eventually executed under Stalin's orders. The author of The End of Everything and Descent, Bergelson was one of the most widely read Yiddish-language writers of the twentieth century. HARRIET MURAV is a professor of Russian and comparative literature at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She is the author of Music from a Speeding Train: Jewish Literature in Post-Revolution Russia and Holy Foolishness: Dostoevsky's Novels and the Poetics of Cultural Critique. SASHA SENDEROVICH is an assistant professor of Russian and Jewish studies at the University of Washington in Seattle. He has published on Soviet Jewish culture and literature, including on Yiddish writer Moyshe Kulbak's novel The Zelmenyaners, as well as on contemporary fiction by emigre Russian Jewish writers in America.