Tsum folk vel ikh fun keyver zingen I will sing to the people from the grave: the emotions of protest in the songs of Dovid Edelshtat
Lorber, John Samuel
The poetry and songs of the radical Jewish Labor movement in the United States were derived from their Russian populist past in Russian and German, but delivered to the Soviet socialist future in Yiddish. What transpired in the interim, from exile to return, is examined in this study. In the 1920s, the power brokers of Soviet Yiddish culture argued the value of the American Sweatshop poets using the lens of Bolshevism and unpredictable state policies as the instruments to guide their analysis. This thesis will look closely at affective factors that contributed to the songs’ persistence, documenting literary and political influences, nodes of transmission, movement shifts, and language and cultural developments during this fifty-year span beginning around 1880. The case of the poetry and songs of Dovid Edelshtat in particular illustrates that the works’ survival into the 1930s and beyond is a testament to the triumph of pragmatism over ideology and emotion over intellect.