Jacob Isaac Segal

Jacob Isaac Segal

A Montreal Yiddish Poet and His Milieu

By Pierre Anctil

400 Pages · 9x6 · October 3 2017

Paper ISBN: 9780776625713

PDF ISBN: 9780776625720

ePub ISBN: 9780776625737

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Description

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 By introducing the reader to the poet’s work through previously unpublished translations, Anctil demonstrates that in many respects it reflects the history of the Jewish immigrants who arrived in North America from Russia, the Ukraine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..................................................................................... xiii

Preface: A Quebec Lyric Poet................................................................ xv

Introduction ............................................................................................ 1

CHAPTER 1
Arrival in Montreal................................................................................. 13
Factory Work.................................................................................... 15
First Attempts at Writing................................................................ 20
In the Pages of Jewish Daily Eagle................................................... 25
The Revelation of 1917.................................................................... 32
The Emergence of Yiddish Literature in Montreal..................... 37
Caiserman in Montreal................................................................... 41
The Poale Zion and the Founding of the Canadian Jewish
Congress............................................................................................ 45
The Urgent Call of Zionism............................................................ 49
The Failed Russian Revolution of 1905........................................ 57
The Beginnings of a Jewish Proletariat in Montreal................... 62

CHAPTER 2
Leaving Korets........................................................................................ 75
The Dawn of 1918............................................................................ 78
Intimist Writing................................................................................ 82
The Urban Aesthetic........................................................................ 85
The Canadian Winter...................................................................... 90
An Exemplary Influence ................................................................ 96
The Genesis of a Yiddish Poet........................................................ 100
The Korets Talmud Torah and Its Nigun......................................... 105
First Literary Influences.................................................................. 109
Segal’s Maternal Grandfather........................................................ 115
The Great Crossing.......................................................................... 120

CHAPTER 3
First Literary Success.............................................................................. 129
Bazunder lider (1921)......................................................................... 133
The New York Modernist Movement........................................... 140
The Journal Nyuansn....................................................................... 142
Under the Wing of Mani Leib........................................................ 149
Fun mayn shtub un mayn velt (1923) .............................................. 154
Lider (1926)........................................................................................ 158
Caiserman, the First Yiddish Literary Critic................................ 163
The Canadian Landscape............................................................... 167
Following the Lead of the French-Canadian Poets..................... 174
An Emerging Literature.................................................................. 178

CHAPTER 4
Toward a Golden Age............................................................................ 189
New Waves of Immigration........................................................... 191
The Crash of 1929............................................................................ 198
Literary Salons and Book Committees......................................... 201
The Sinister Echoes of Nazism....................................................... 206
Idishe dikhter in kanade (1934) ......................................................... 214
Caiserman as Literary Historian................................................... 219
The Poet at His Peak ....................................................................... 225
The Great Mystical Watershed....................................................... 229
The Agnostic Poet Before God....................................................... 236

CHAPTER 5
The “Years of Lead”: The Holocaust and Its Aftermath.................... 247
First Indications of Genocide......................................................... 250
The End of a World.......................................................................... 254
New Sources of Inspiration............................................................ 259
Looking Toward Montreal............................................................. 264
A Mystical Leap............................................................................... 270
A Chorus of Praise........................................................................... 275
The Contribution of the Holocaust Survivors............................. 281
The Ravitch Galaxy......................................................................... 285
The Yiddish Writers Association .................................................. 288
Twilight Reflections......................................................................... 293
The Final Exile.................................................................................. 299

Conclusion............................................................................................... 311

Reviews

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

Canadian Jewish Studies / Études juives canadiennes, volume 20

As Canada’s most renowned Yiddish poet and a celebrated figure in Jewish letters, a full-length study of J.I. Segal is long overdue….This is the
first monograph to appear that focuses specifically on Segal. … A significant contribution to our knowledge of Segal’s life and writing… the extensive primary source material offered by this encyclopedic work will be of greatvalue 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 chooses to focus on Segal’s Montréalité, both the lens through which the poet’s modernity is reflected and the repository of longing for the idealizedinnocence 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 isessential 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