Judging from his early Yiddish writings, young Rappoport was at war with the past. His story "The History of a Family," chronicled the economic and moral collapse of a "typical" Jewish family. The men, raised on a strict diet of prayer and Talmud study, were utterly passive. The women sacrificed themselves even to the point of prostitution. Except for a grandfather's stories and some old wives' potions, there was nothing in tradition that had any redemptive power whatsoever.... In the early 1880s, when The History of a Family was written, such frontal attacks on all of the institutions of Yiddishkayt were still rare in Yiddish fiction. Because no publisher would go near it, Rappoport finally placed his family chronicle in a Russian-Jewish periodical, where it appeared under the pen name "Pseudonym" in 1884.



David G. Roskies, ed. The Dybbuk and Other Writings. Copyright © 1992 The Fund for the Translation of Jewish Literature (New York: Schocken Books), pp. xiii-xiv. Reprinted by permission of The Fund.

ANSKY Introduction



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