The 18th World Congress of Jewish Studies

Lazar Karmen in the Context of Russian–Jewish Literature and the Study of the Odessa Text

Lazar Karmen’s oeuvre can be analyzed as an important pre-text of the South-Western literary school of 1920–1930s existed in Soviet literature. It includes one of the most prominent representative of Odessa literature Isaak Babel. His work is the base to the studies of the so called "Odessa text" (V. Vernikova, M. Lekke, L. Katzis) and the "Odessa language" (V. Smirnov, E. N. Stepanov).

Historians of Russian-Jewish literature consider Karmen as one of contemporaries mentioned by Zhabotinsky in his novel "The Five". Such characteristics as “the writer of everyday life of the port and tramps” allows us to assert it to Karmen, the brightest journalist and expert on Odessa language.

Meanwhile, the first historian of Russian-Jewish literature as Lvov-Rogachevsky did not include Karmen in his famous monograph "Russian-Jewish Literature" (1922). Karmen is not considered in the Hetenyi’s review monograph (2008) on Russian-Jewish Literature.

So, it is clear that his oeuvre has not been sufficiently studied just till 2000th. Analysis of his writings are based mainly on the texts of his collections of the 1900s - 1920s and their partial reprints. While numerous publications in Russian-Jewish press, as well as texts that can be found in archives, are still not take into account.

My report will present an analysis of Karmen`s texts related to the problems of Russian-Jewish literature (articles and stories in "Rassvet" and "Evreisky Mir" (1909-1910), including the impressions of Karmen’s trip to Palestine, as well as stories "Oblomok" (Shatter) and autobiographical "My Son!". Special attention will be paid to Jewish characters from the series of stories such as Na Dne Odessi (At the Bottom of Odessa), plays Soloveichik and Vorobeichik, Reporter Volkov and so on.

Karmen’s texts will be compared to the writings by such well known Russian-Jewish authors as S. Yushkevich and D. Aizman. Their joint literary activity is indisputably connected with the development of Russian-Jewish literature at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries.