A Masterpiece Worth Revisiting

Isaac Babel was 26 when he was attached as a political propagandist to the Red Army’s First Cavalry division in 1920. It’s difficult to grasp how bizarre this arrangement was. Babel was a middle-class Jew. And though the 1917 Russian Revolution had shaken up longstanding antagonisms, the First Cavalry were Cossacks, who had a proud tradition of murderous anti-Semitism. As one of Babel’s biographers noted, this was a little like a black man joining the Ku Klux Klan.

The dissonance of that experience, as well as its…

Article source: http://www.wsj.com/articles/a-masterpiece-worth-revisiting-1440966707

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