Isaac Leib Peretz

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Peretz, Isaac Leib


Born May 18 (30), 1851, in Zamost’e, now Zamość, in Lublin Province, Poland; died Mar. 21 (Apr. 3), 1915, in Warsaw. Yiddish writer.

The son of a merchant, Peretz was self-educated. His first works were published in Hebrew in 1875; beginning in 1888 he wrote in Yiddish. In the 1890’s he founded the periodical The Jewish Library and edited the collection Literature and Life (1894); these publications played an important role in the development of Jewish social thought.

Peretz was a bold innovator in his treatment of different genres. His talent was best displayed in short stories dealing with sharp conflicts. In the 1890’s, Peretz attacked vestiges of medievalism in the Jewish community. He depicted the tragic victims of religious asceticism in the stories “The Cabalists” and “In the Mail Wagon.”

Late in the 1880’s, Peretz still had faith in bourgeois culture. However, he later published articles unmasking bourgeois “freedoms.” His story “Silent Bontsia” (1894) protested against man’s age-old oppression; the short story “The Love of a Weaver” (1897) revealed sympathy for the socialist movement. Early in the 1900’s, Peretz’ works were predominantly romantic; examples are Hasidic Tales (1900) and Folktales (1904–09). Peretz contrasted the calculating nature of the bourgeois to the spiritual wealth of characters created by popular imagination. His works strongly influenced the development of modern Yiddish literature.


Ale Verk, vols. 1–18. New York-Vilnius, 1915–16.
Oisgevelte Verk, vols. 1–2. [Introductory article by R. Rubina.] Moscow, 1941.
In Russian translation:
Sobr. soch., vols. 1–4. Moscow, 1911–14.
Rasskazy i skazki. [Foreword by Sh. Epshtein.] Moscow, 1941.
Izbrannoe. [Foreword by R. Rubina.] Moscow, 1962.


Rubina, R. Itskhok Leibush Perets. Moscow, 1941.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
Staged between those two stories was a well-known short story entitled "Bontshe Shvayg" (Bontshe the Silent), (2) by the canonical Yiddish and Hebrew writer Isaac Leib Peretz (1852-1915).
From 1933 to 1937, I attended the Herzliah Hebrew Teachers' Institute on East Broadway near the Day and Forward buildings, where one of my teachers was Abraham Epstein, a renowned authority, on Mendele Mocher Seforim, Isaac Leib Peretz, and Sholem Aleichem, three giants of Yiddish literature.
It is hard to think of any modern author who had as profound an effect on literature and was simultaneously as widely read and as beloved by his audience as the Yiddish writer Isaac Leib Peretz (1859-1915).
One of the central figures of the family is the Polish Yiddish writer Isaac Leib Peretz, to whom every self-respecting Peretz is related even if it occasionally requires a feat of genealogical juggling.
What I valued most about Treasury was its re-creation of the pre-Holocaust world of Mendele Mokher Sforim, Isaac Leib Peretz, Sholom Aleichem, Sholom Asch, Joshua and Bashevis Singer, with their voices perpetuated in the English of Saul Bellow, Marie Syrkin, Maurice Samuel, Isaac Rosenfeld, Shlomo Katz, and others of equal stature, including Irving Howe and Eliezer Greenberg.