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Jews in Poland and Russia: 1881-1914 v. 2$
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Antony Polonsky

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9781904113836

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: February 2021

DOI: 10.3828/liverpool/9781904113836.001.0001

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Modern Jewish Literature in the Tsarist Empire and Galicia

Modern Jewish Literature in the Tsarist Empire and Galicia

(p.212) Seven Modern Jewish Literature in the Tsarist Empire and Galicia
Jews in Poland and Russia: 1881-1914 v. 2

Antony Polonsky

Liverpool University Press

This chapter describes how the emergence of a modern Jewish literature in Yiddish, Hebrew, and to a lesser extent in German, Polish, and Russian, was a development linked with the modernization of the Jewish communities in the lands of the former Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth. It was only in the 1860s that a word for literature—sifrut (sifrus in the Ashkenazi pronunciation)—became current among the Jews of this area. The development of a literature of this type among the Jews, as among other nations in Europe, was linked to secularization, the waning of the power of religion and of traditional ways of life, and the growth of a consciousness of individual identity. Indeed, much of the literature written by Jews in the nineteenth century is concerned with the discovery of self. This was a new phenomenon in the Jewish world.

Keywords:   modern Jewish literature, Yiddish literature, Hebrew literature, modernization, Jewish communities, sifrut, secularization, Jewish identity, self-discovery, Jewish writers

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