Jacob Isaac Segal

Jacob Isaac Segal

A Montreal Yiddish Poet and His Milieu

By Pierre Anctil

432 Pages · 9x6 · October 3 2017

Paper ISBN: 9780776625713

PDF ISBN: 9780776625720

ePub ISBN: 9780776625737

Availability: In stock

Product Name Price Qty
39.95 $ CA
PDF eBook
29.99 $ CA
ePub eBook
29.99 $ CA


Translated by Vivian Felsen
Finalist, 2018 Governor General’s Literary Awards (GGBooks), Translation category

Born in the Ukraine in 1896, and settling in Montreal in 1910, Segal became one of the first Yiddish writers in Canada. His poetry, infused with lyricism and mysticism, along with the numerous essays and articles he penned, embodied both a rich literary tradition and the modernism of his day.

Pierre Anctil has written so much more than a biography. For the first time, Segal’s poetic production is referenced, translated and rigorously analyzed, and includes over 100 pages of appendices, shedding light on the artistic, spiritual, cultural and historical importance of his oeuvre. By introducing the reader to the poet’s work through previously unpublished translations, Anctil demonstrates that in many respects it reflects the history of the Jewish immigrants who arrived in North America from Russia, the Ukraine and Poland at the beginning of the 20th century, as well as the tragic experiences of Jewish intellectual refugees of the interwar period.

This admirably written, sweeping yet subtle, work will appeal both to scholars and to a broader audience. 

The original French version was awarded the prestigious 2014 Canada Prize in the Humanities by the Canadian Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences.
Translator’s Note

Preface: A Quebec Lyric Poet


Arrival in Montreal
Factory Work
First Attempts at Writing
In the Pages of Jewish Daily Eagle
The Revelation of 1917
The Emergence of Yiddish Literature in Montreal
Caiserman in Montreal
The Poale Zion and the Founding of the Canadian Jewish
The Urgent Call of Zionism
The Failed Russian Revolution of 1905
The Beginnings of a Jewish Proletariat in Montreal

Leaving Korets
The Dawn of 1918
Intimist Writing
The Urban Aesthetic
The Canadian Winter
An Exemplary Influence 
The Genesis of a Yiddish Poet
The Korets Talmud Torah and Its Nigun
First Literary Influences
Segal’s Maternal Grandfather
The Great Crossing

First Literary Success
Bazunder lider (1921)
The New York Modernist Movement
The Journal Nyuansn
Under the Wing of Mani Leib
Fun mayn shtub un mayn velt (1923) 
Lider (1926)
Caiserman, the First Yiddish Literary Critic
The Canadian Landscape
Following the Lead of the French-Canadian Poets
An Emerging Literature

Toward a Golden Age
New Waves of Immigration
The Crash of 1929
Literary Salons and Book Committees
The Sinister Echoes of Nazism
Idishe dikhter in kanade (1934)
Caiserman as Literary Historian
The Poet at His Peak
The Great Mystical Watershed
The Agnostic Poet Before God

The “Years of Lead”: The Holocaust and Its Aftermath
First Indications of Genocide
The End of a World
New Sources of Inspiration
Looking Toward Montreal
A Mystical Leap
A Chorus of Praise
The Contribution of the Holocaust Survivors
The Ravitch Galaxy
The Yiddish Writers Association
Twilight Reflections
The Final Exile



Foreword Indies Book of the Year Awards, finalist for Multicultural, US, 2017


A beautifully written and researched book abounding in grace, nuance and depth.

Canadian Jewish Studies / Études juives canadiennes, volume 20

Canada’s most renowned
Yiddish poet and
a celebrated
figure in Jewish letters, a
full-length study of
J.I. Segal is long
This is the
first monograph to appear that focuses specifically on Segal. … A
contribution to our knowledge of Segal’s life
and writing… the
extensive primary
source material offered by this encyclopedic work will be of great
value to those who seek to undertake a scholarly analysis that situates Segal within the wider context of
Yiddish letters in
Canada as well as internationally.

Rebecca Margolis, "Uncovering a Poet," Canadian Literature, Winter 2013, p. 131-132

"According to
Anctil Segal was the
first poet in Quebec to embrace
modern urbanity in his work. Consequently, he choses
focus on Segal’s Montréalité, both the lens through which the poet’s modernity is reflected and
the repository of longing for
the idealized
innocence of the shietl. However, Segal also ‘appropriates’ Montreal by Yiddishizing it…This book is sure
to resonate deeply with readers partly because the
fragile memory of Segal, the
reverred forgotten poet, is reminiscent of
the fate of Yiddish culture itself….This intimate, compelling and scholarly collective portrait is
essential for anyone interested in
the inner life
of the Jewish community, and
in the immigrant experience in Montreal."

Eve Lerner, "Book Review | Compte rendu", CIS|EJC

Published by the University of Ottawa Press last
year, Felsen's translation has been hailed as a 'brilliant' and 'sensitive'
rendering of Anctil's original work (...).

Ron Csillag

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