Isaak Babel

(redirected from Isaac Babel)
Also found in: Wikipedia.
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Babel’, Isaak Emmanuilovich


Born July 1 (13), 1894; died Mar. 17, 1941. Soviet Russian writer. Born in Odessa into the family of a Jewish merchant.

The first published stories by Babel’ appeared in the periodical Letopis’. Then, upon M. Gorky’s advice, he “went to make a living” and changed his profession several times. In 1920 he was a soldier and a political worker in the Red Cavalry. In 1924 he published several short stories, which later formed the cycles Red Cavalry and Odessa Tales. In his narrations of the soldiers and commanders of the Red Cavalry, he portrays, along with true defenders of the revolution, anarchist cossack freebooters; the narrator and main character, a young intellectual for whom the Civil War is a school of courage and revolutionary consciousness, appears as a stranger in this milieu. Although the critics of those years recognized the talent of Babel’ and the importance of his work, they reproached him for his naturalism and his vindication of primitive forces. In Odessa Tales, Babel’ portrays the life of poor Jews before the revolution; he finds in the daily life of the artisans and small merchants exotic traits and strong characters. In 1928, Babel’ published the play Sunset (produced by the Second Moscow Art Theater), and in 1935 the play Maria. He also wrote several scenarios. He was a master of the short story and aimed for laconism and precision. In his portrayal of the characters, plot conflicts, and descriptions he combined turbulent emotions with external impassivity. Although the style of his earlier stories is flowery and suffers from an excess of metaphors, he later developed a severe and restrained narrative manner. The work of Isaak Babel’ has been widely recognized and his works have been translated into many languages.


Izbrannoe. [Foreword by I. Erenburg.] Moscow, 1957.
Izbrannoe. [Introductory article by L. Poliak.] Moscow, 1966.


Voronskii.A. “I. Babel’.” In his book Literaturnye portrety, vol. 1. Moscow, 1928.
I. Babel’: Stat’i i materialy. Moscow, 1928.
Russkie Sovetskie pisateli-prozaiki: Bibliograficheskii ukazatel’, vol. 1. Leningrad, 1959.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
Through his encouragement of writers like Sholem Aleichem, Isaac Babel, and Chaim Nachman Bialik, Gorky changed the course of not only modern Russian literature, but also, indirectly, modern Jewish literature well beyond Eastern Europe.
In his book City of Rogues and Schnorrers, Jarrod Tanny (2011: 3) has characterized the Odessa myth as "an improbable fusion of criminality, Jewishness, and humor." The foremost literary incarnations of this spirit were the flamboyant gangster Benya Krik in Isaac Babel's Odessa Tales (1931) and Ostap Bender, the suave con man starring in Ilya Ilf's and Evgeny Petrov's novels The Twelve Chairs (1928) and The Golden Calf (1931).
This winter I've only lost myself in a little Isaac Babel, but over the last several days I've scratched a bit of my seasonal itch by roaming the expanses of post-apocalyptic Russia with Artyom the ruminative ranger and the hero of "Metro Exodus."
Two essays focus on the works of Isaac Babel and his influence on Charyn's writing and worldview.
Continue reading "'Awakening,' a Short Story by Isaac Babel, in a New English Translation" at...
I'm a big fan of the Russians: Isaac Babel is just an exquisite line-to-line stylist.
The idea of evil fascinated me, and rather like Isaac Babel, who had joined the Cossacks, lived with them, and written stories about them, I almost tried to imagine that I was living with the Klan.
The town that Russian author Isaac Babel references in this passage is the storied Black Sea metropolis of Odessa.
Singer, Joseph Roth, and Yisroel Rabon; the fortunes of the polit in the new Soviet regime in works by Ilya Ehrenburg and Isaac Babel; and alternative forms of Jewish emplacement in the diaspora and Israel in works by Saul Bellow and David Grossman.
Sebald's elegiac skimming over memoir and history or Isaac Babel's devastating nonchalance about a society in violent turmoil makes no difference to me.
Kitaj's diasporic identity, the painting seems to admit, is a vision conjured out of books, especially by Isaac Babel, Franz Kafka, and the other Jewish authors he so admired.