[[ Kindle ]] ⇷ The Complete Works of Isaac Babel ✐ PDF eBook or Kindle ePUB free

I hadn t set out to read this book but, after reading the first chapter of Elif Batuman s The Possessed Adventures with Russian Books and the People Who Read Them, in which she talks about her involvement with an Isaac Babel seminar in grad school, her recounting of Babel s tragic story grabbed hold of me and, since I already had this book sitting on my shelf, I was moved to read it before I d even finished The Possessed.I haven t read all 1072 pages yet, but I did read the sections that intere I hadn t set out to read this book but, after reading the first chapter of Elif Batuman s The Possessed Adventures with Russian Books and the People Who Read Them, in which she talks about her involvement with an Isaac Babel seminar in grad school, her recounting of Babel s tragic story grabbed hold of me and, since I already had this book sitting on my shelf, I was moved to read it before I d even finished The Possessed.I haven t read all 1072 pages yet, but I did read the sections that interested me most I started with Babel s 1920 diary, then read his Red Cavalry stories, the additional Red Cavalry stories which hadn t been included in the initial Russian collection , his propaganda articles for the Red Cavalrymen, and a few other miscellaneous stories about 300 pages in all What these sections taught me, first and foremost, is that my knowledge of Revolutionary Russia both pre and post 1917 is woefully lax Considering that I was in middle school and high school in the leadup to the end of the Cold War graduating high school in 1991 , it s actually pretty unbelievable that I don t know much about Russian or Soviet history know your enemy and all that nonsense What I really could ve used, before reading these sections, were a few history books particularly on the Cossacks and on Soviet Russia s failed conflict with the Republic of Poland, circa 1919 1921 I ve already tracked down a copy of Philip Longworth s The Cossacks Nonetheless, Babel s diary and Red Cavalry stories provided me with a visceral, first person look at the cruelty and hypocrisy of the war on both sides The people who suffered most horribly, it seems, are the civilians who lived in the villages that were occupied, retreated from, and reoccupied as the battle lines shifted, first by the Russian army and then by the Polish army, perpetually throughout the war And each time a village was reoccupied, the houses were looted, the civilians food, equipment, and horses were confiscated, their wives and daughters were raped, and their husbands and fathers were executed as spies for the opposing army These horrors, metaphorically typified in Babel s most famous story, My First Goose, seem to have been omnipresent, despite the Red Cavalry s b.s party line of how they re bringing the glories of Revolution to the oppressed Polish people Babel s stories tend to be pretty short, usually only two or three pages In the Red Cavalry stories, anyway, the plots are somewhat rambling, focusing on brief, sometimes chaotic sequences of events or definitive moments in a character s life He emphasizes the pettiness and ineptitude of the Red Cavalry s officers, the casual depravity of the mercenary Cossacks, and the dreary, oppressed lives of the villagers caught in the crossfire Babel s Red Cavalry stories and his 1920 diary are, in other words, completely depressing, though there are moments of humor and humanity lurking within them They had a profound effect on me and, as I mentioned, they ve motivated me to learnabout this aspect of Russian history, not to mention the enigmatic Cossacks [[ Kindle ]] ↙ The Complete Works of Isaac Babel ↝ Finally in paperback, this monumental collection gathers all of Babel s deft and brutal writing, including a wide array of previously unavailable material, from never before translated stories to plays and film scripts David Ulin, Los Angeles Times Reviewing the work in The New Republic, James Woods wrote that this groundbreaking volume represents a triumph of translating, editing, and publishing Beautiful to hold, scholarly and also popularly accessible, it is an enactment of love Considered one of the greatest writers of the twentieth century, Isaac Babel has left his mark on a generation of readers and writers This book will stand as Babel s final, most enduring legacy Winner of the Koret Jewish Book Award A New York Times Notable Book, a and Library Journal Best Book, a Washington Post Book World Rave, a Village Voice Favorite Book of the Year A remarkable collection which should be read by everyone. Although I sometimes prefer the Penguin translation by David McDuff, this is a must have all inclusive book for lovers of Isaac Babel Strewn with gems of language and stories to die for, this volume reveals the genius that was Babel, tragically extinguished in his prime by Stalin My favorite line is from his story, Guy De Maupassant, page 628 in my edition No iron spike can pierce a human heart as icily as a period in the right place. The Complete Works of Isaac Babel I picked this up after browsing through its exhaustive though nothing short of staggering collection of one of Russia s greatest writers and perhaps, I would argue, one of the greatest short story writers, and the greatest short short story writer ever Babel is a genius of prose, with razor sharp, electric descriptions of whores, businessmen, Romeos, street urchins, Jews and Gentiles tossed amid the storm of life, every sentence pulsating with vibrant energy, The Complete Works of Isaac Babel I picked this up after browsing through its exhaustive though nothing short of staggering collection of one of Russia s greatest writers and perhaps, I would argue, one of the greatest short story writers, and the greatest short short story writer ever Babel is a genius of prose, with razor sharp, electric descriptions of whores, businessmen, Romeos, street urchins, Jews and Gentiles tossed amid the storm of life, every sentence pulsating with vibrant energy, reaching to pull you into the soul of the desperate, the deranged, and the dazzling, while wrapping you in a shawl of settings sublime and vivifying A phenomenal bibliography, introduction, and afterward If you are interested in defining the flavor of this translation, I suggest to read alongside this tome, the Penguin collection of his works, which renders the prosefloral andbeautiful see the story Italian Sun for example I sat to the side, dozed, dreams pouncing around me like kittens Indispensable for the Babel scholar and for short story authors in general The latter sections contain screenplays from the early days of cinema Interesting to see Babel defining what his art would do in that new medium The short stories especially the Red Cavalry stories are mind blowing Learned so much from the book about writing and Russia. I place Jorge Borges as my absolute favorite writer of the 20th century This collection places Babel at a very, very close second It amazes me still how some writers can give youin a story 3 or 4 or 5 pages long than most writers can in a novel. I don t like short stories, and have no time to convince myself otherwise. If Tolstoy were Jewish, a revolutionary, possessed a mordant sense of humor, and wrote short stories, he might resemble Isaac Babel By that I mean the ability to see everything and everyone with great clarity, balancing equal amounts of warm sympathy and cool interest, whether for Cossack officers or Jewish villagers, villains and victims alike Which isn t to say that Babel s masterpiece, the Red Cavalry stories are anything like Tolstoy, or even Chekhov They are sui generis But like Tolstoy If Tolstoy were Jewish, a revolutionary, possessed a mordant sense of humor, and wrote short stories, he might resemble Isaac Babel By that I mean the ability to see everything and everyone with great clarity, balancing equal amounts of warm sympathy and cool interest, whether for Cossack officers or Jewish villagers, villains and victims alike Which isn t to say that Babel s masterpiece, the Red Cavalry stories are anything like Tolstoy, or even Chekhov They are sui generis But like Tolstoy or Chekhov, Babel never let morality or politics interfere with his writer s compulsion to capture the violent truths that he witnessed as participant and observer of the Russian Revolution, and in particular, the 1920 military expedition into Poland It was one of Bolshevik Russia s first foreign forays and it ended in disaster Red Cavalry made Babel s reputation, but its blistering honesty also earned him powerful enemies.Babel was a true believer in socialism and revolution, but he was first and foremost a writer, a fact that almost ordained his eventual arrest and execution by Stalin in 1939 Babel sacrificed his life to his language, critic Cynthia Ozick writes in the introduction Babel was a master miniaturist many of his finest stories are really vignettes vividly etched character portraits and descriptive passages connected by a slender plot line His prose is always striking and original A description of a Cossack officer His long legs looked like two girls wedged to their shoulders in riding boots The thoughts of a soldier after a day of defeat and retreat use words in odd but evocative ways The evening soared into the sky like a flock of birds and the darkness laid its wet garland upon me I was exhausted and crouching beneath the crown of death, walked on hugging fate for the simplest ability the ability to kill a man Babel first made his reputation with his Odessa Stories, comic accounts of Jewish gangsters and family life in his native city Who can resist a gangster whose nickname was Yid and a Half Red Cavalry possesses a dark humor as well, but what predominates are Babel s portrayals of war s degradation and brutality He allows the basic humanity of his characters to survive, but little else The combat often occurs in heavily populated Jewish shtetls, and Babel, who takes on the persona of a Cossack soldier in some of the stories, treats them in an alternately callous and sympathetic manner The reflexive anti Semitism of the Cossacks and their Polish foes can dishearten a modern reader.Babel Is clearly testing his identity as a vanguard revolutionary at certain points, while at other times, he embraces or at least does not reject his Jewish identity In addition to Russian, Babel was fluent in French and Yiddish and never limited himself to writing purely out of a Jewish tradition Babel s later stories became longer andpersonal, but the language remains fresh and striking He also wrote plays and several screenplays, which were not produced A vast number of manuscripts and parts of an unfinished novel disappeared after his arrest and execution It s difficult to write a review of the works of Isaac Babel, for me, at least So much of his work is infused with the strident socialist idealism of the early Soviet period At the same time, he wasn t a regime hack He openly criticized leaders and decisions in about as open a manner as one could, which would eventually lead to his demise during the Stalinist purges of the 1930s He s at his best when he s not being political, just telling stories, either of the denizens of the Jewish ghettos It s difficult to write a review of the works of Isaac Babel, for me, at least So much of his work is infused with the strident socialist idealism of the early Soviet period At the same time, he wasn t a regime hack He openly criticized leaders and decisions in about as open a manner as one could, which would eventually lead to his demise during the Stalinist purges of the 1930s He s at his best when he s not being political, just telling stories, either of the denizens of the Jewish ghettos or life among the Red Cossacks during the Soviet Polish war Babel studied his predecessors well Of the writers in Russian, only Chekhov is his peer in short story form It is unfortunate that the turgid partisan Gorki was an even larger influence His short stories have the ability to capture nuanced mood and character in under ten pages, but whereas Chekhov is dour and ultimately misanthropic, Babel seems to find redeeming and human qualities in even brutal gangsters and bloodthirsty cavalrymen It s not a total moral inversion The gangsters are still profiteers and the cavalrymen still sadistic bigots, but no one is a caricature well, until we get to his longer writing with its noble tragic socialist heros, but even there he stills sneaks in some sly references to show he s knowingly doing so There s a lot of degradation and brutality in his stories but at the same time there s a bit of joy, even if it seems derived from finding the humor and irony in some very dark situations He s not as skilled a prose stylist as Chekhov or Maupassant, he s not as able to create mood via physical description, nor craft evocative passages At the same time he s managed to write with a far wider emotional range in some respects.I have the omnibus edition of all his surviving works compiled To be honest, I d skip the dramas and screenplays They re fairly mediocre Some of the stories are meh as well, and likely I think the author would agree which is why they weren t published in a collection That s the thing with these sorts of editions, you get the good and the not so good The afterword written by his daughter is a great piece of literature in and of itself, a personal reflection of a father she barely knew as she lived an early life of poverty and insecurity in exile with her mother.Four out of Five stars