Isaak Babel's El'ia Isaakovich as a New Jewish Type

TitleIsaak Babel's El'ia Isaakovich as a New Jewish Type
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2002
AuthorsSafran, Gabriella
Secondary TitleSlavic Review
AbstractThis article analyzes a 1916 story by Isaak Babel', {"El'ia} Isaakovich and Margarita Prokof'evna" (published in Maksim Gor'kii's Letopis'), in which a Jewish businessman from Odessa takes refuge with an Orel prostitute to avoid being sent back to the Pale of Settlement by the police. Safran sees El'ia Isaakovich as a character type new to mainstream Russian literature, a strong Jewish man who is neither a victim nor an exploiter of Russians but can inspire them to positive change. Safran pursues four related lines of reasoning: she sets the story in light of Gor'kii's attitude toward Babel' and the {'Jewish} Question"; she reads it as a parody of the urban myth of the Jewish false prostitute; she compares it to Jewish folktales about Elijah the Prophet; and she considers the hero's repetition of the word nivroko, a formula that Odessa Jews used to ward off the evil eye.
Notes{ArticleType:} research-article / Full publication date: Summer, 2002 / Copyright © 2002 The American Association for the Advancement of Slavic Studies