A literary cult figure on a par with Franz Kafka, Isaac Babel has remained an enigma ever since he disappeared, along with his archive, inside Stalin's secret police headquarters in May of 1939. Made famous by Red Cavalry, a book about the Russian civil war (he was the world's first "embedded" war reporter), another book about the Jewish gangsters of his native Odessa, and yet another about his own Russian Jewish childhood, Babel has been celebrated by generations of readers, all craving fuller knowledge of his works and days. Bringing together scholars of different countries and areas of specialization, the present volume is the first examination of Babel's life and art since the fall of communism and the opening of Soviet archives. Part biography, part history, part critical examination of the writer's legacy in Russian, European, and Jewish cultural contexts, The Enigma of Isaac Babel will be of interest to the general reader and specialist alike.
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