David Rafailovich Bergelson
Bergel’son, David Rafailovich
Born Aug. 12, 1884, in Okhrimovo, Lipovets District, Kiev Province; died Aug. 12, 1952. Soviet Jewish writer. Born into a well-to-do family.
Bergel’son began his literary career with the short story Around the Railroad Station (1909). His gift for refined psychological analysis was brilliantly manifested in the novel After Everything (1913), which has been translated into many Western European languages (Russian translation— Mirele, 1941). This novel presents a broad picture of the life of different strata of the Jewish bourgeoisie and shows the various fates of the Jewish intelligentsia. The novel Deviation (1920) shows people seeking their way in the complex world after the Revolution of 1905–07. In 1921, Bergel’son went abroad, lived in Berlin, and wrote for the Jewish democratic press. He returned to the USSR in 1929.
The theme of the legitimacy of the October Revolution and of the Civil War was expressed in the novel The Measure of Severity (1926–27) and in the collection of stories Stormy Days (1927). The novel On the Dnieper (1932–40; Russian translation of first edition, 1935) is a milestone in Soviet Jewish literature; it is an epic dealing with the life and struggle of the popular masses in the early 20th century that presents colorful portrayals of professional revolutionaries. The collection New Stories (1947) and others deal with the heroism of Soviet people in the Great Patriotic War. Bergel’son also wrote the historical play Prince Reubeini (1946), and the incompleted short story Aleksandr Barash (1946) about the restoration of the national economy in the 1920’s. Bergel’son’s style is characterized by lyrical emotionalism, masterful psychological detail, and strict economy of language.
WORKSBam Dneper, vols. 1–2. Moscow, 1947–48.
In Russian translation:
Mirele. Moscow, 1941.
Izbr. proizv. Moscow, 1947.
Izbrannoe. Moscow, 1957.
Na Dnepre, vols. 1–2. Moscow, 1960.