The Anti-Imperial Choice: The Making of the Ukrainian Jew



This book is the first to explore the Jewish contribution to, and integration with, Ukrainian culture. Yohanan Petrovsky-Shtern focuses on five writers and poets of Jewish descent whose literary activities span the 1880s to the 1990s. Unlike their East European contemporaries who disparaged the culture of Ukraine as second-rate, stateless, and colonial, these individuals embraced the Russian- and Soviet-dominated Ukrainian community, incorporating their Jewish concerns in their Ukrainian-language writings.

The author argues that the marginality of these literati as Jews fuelled their sympathy toward Ukrainians and their national cause. Providing extensive historical background, biographical detail, and analysis of each writer's poetry and prose, Petrovsky-Shtern shows how a Ukrainian-Jewish literary tradition emerged. Along the way, he challenges assumptions about modern Jewish acculturation and Ukrainian-Jewish relations.

Product Details

Yale University Press
Publish Date
April 01, 2009
6.1 X 1.3 X 9.3 inches | 1.5 pounds
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About the Author

Yohanan Petrovsky-Shtern teaches Jewish history in the History Department and the Crown Family Center for Jewish Studies, Northwestern University. He publishes frequently in the areas of East European history and culture and Jewish studies. He lives in Chicago.


"This book is an important contribution not only to the history of Jews in Ukriane but also to broader discussions of the role of language in a writer's construction of his or her national identity."--Amelia Glaser, American Historical Review--Amelia Glaser "American Historical Review "

"Petrovsky is a real rarity among scholars: he is fully at home in both East European and Jewish literature, and he exhibits an intimate knowledge of both Ukrainian and Jewish histories."--Glenn Dynner, author of Men of Silk: The Hasidic Conquest of Polish Jewish Society

--Glenn Dynner

"A work of original and impressive scholarship."--Timothy Snyder, Yale University

--Timothy Snyder
"A scintilliating, informative, and novel book...The Anti-Imperial Choice deserves a broad readership among historians, literary specialists, indeed anyone interested in culture, identity, and modernity in the context of Eastern Europe."--;I>Journal of Jewish Identities --Theodore R. Weeks "Journal of Jewish Identities "