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The Drama of Faith and the National Question in Russian-Jewish Playwrights (1880–1910)

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Chapter Summary

The first decades of the 20th century formed the most brilliant period in the history of Russian Jewish playwriting. It has become common to associate this with the names of D. Aizman, O. Dymov, and S. Yushkevich. The question of baptism became one of the distinctive problems of Jewish and Russian Jewish drama at the beginning of the 20th century, along with the so-called "pogrom dramas" that emerged after the Kishinev Pogrom of 1903. Jewish playwrights focussed on the question of the young generation's abandonment of traditional values, or, conversely, of their return to their nation. Baptism as a central issue was more typical of the works by Jewish authors writing in Russian than it was for Yiddish texts. The play became M. Nordau's response to Th. Herzl's drama The New Ghetto, (1894) in which the ambivalence of well-to-do Jews in Vienna is brought to the fore.

Keywords: "pogrom dramas"; baptism; D. Aizman; Kishinev Pogrom; O. Dymov; Russian Jewish playwriting; S. Yushkevich; Th. Herzl's drama; The New Ghetto



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