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Music from a Speeding Train: Jewish Literature in Post-Revolution Russia

Music from a Speeding Train- Jewish Literature in Post-Revolution Russia book cover

Winner of the 2012 Outstanding Academic Title Award, sponsored by Choice.

Music from a Speeding Train explores the uniquely Jewish space created by Jewish authors working within the limitations of the Soviet cultural system. It situates Russian- and Yiddish- language authors in the same literary universe—one in which modernism, revolution, socialist realism, violence, and catastrophe join traditional Jewish texts to provide the framework for literary creativity. These writers represented, attacked, reformed, and mourned Jewish life in the pre-revolutionary shtetl as they created new forms of Jewish culture.

The book emphasizes the Soviet Jewish response to World War II and the Nazi destruction of the Jews, disputing the claim that Jews in Soviet Russia did not and could not react to the killings of Jews. It reveals a largely unknown body of Jewish literature beginning as early as 1942 that responds to the mass killings. By exploring works through the early twenty-first century, the book reveals a complex, emotionally rich, and intensely vibrant Soviet Jewish culture that persisted beyond Stalinist oppression.



About the author

Harriet Murav is Professor of Slavic Languages and Literatures and Comparative and World Literature at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and author of Identity Theft: The Jew in Imperial Russia and the Case of Avraam Uri Kovner (Stanford, 2003) and Holy Foolishness: Dostoevsky's Novels & the Poetics of Cultural Critique(Stanford, 1992).