Re: [xmca] Another Textological Question: Chukovsky's alleged anti-semitism

From: Anton Yasnitsky <the_yasya who-is-at>
Date: Sun Apr 29 2007 - 21:49:47 PDT


Part I. Chukovsky's alleged anti-semitism.

Anti-semitism Evidence:

--- David Kellogg <>
> Secondly, I am not at all sure what to make
> of Chukovsky's penchant for recounting the
> anti-Semitic comments of his peers in his
> diary. The diary itself does not seem sure what
> to make of it.

Very good point. I just want to emphasize that we
do not have direct evidence of the author's
anti-semitism in the diary, only indirect,
reported speech of the others. On the grounds of
these fragments the conclusions, I argue, are
highly conjectural and vulnerable.

> ... he
> expresses disgust for the physical appearance
> of Trotsky, Zinoviev and even some revulsion
> for Kamenev, all well known as Jews.

To me, this fact does not really look like a
strong evidence in support of Chukovsky's
anti-semitism claim (one should keep in mind that
Chukovsky had very good reasons for disliking
Trotsky; see
). Also, telling anecdotes about Jews, believe
me, is not necessarily that anti-semitic as it
might look.

Anti-semitism over 1920s Counter-evidence, (some
reading in English suggested):
1. Il'ja Serman
Spory 1908 goda o russko-evrejskoj literature i
posleoktjabr'skoe desjatiletie:


Debate in 1908 on the subject of Jewish
literature in Russian language and the
post-October decade. – The most eminent Jewish
writers took part in the debate that suddenly
made its appearance in the Russian press in 1908:
Kornei Chukovskii argued that the participation
of Jews in Russian literature was undesirable
because of their own bimillenary tradition and
the impossibility to create a masterpiece in a
foreign language. Vladimir Zhabotinskii, who had
helped Chukovskii a few years before to penetrate
into Russian journalism, supported him in this
debate inciting Jews who wrote in Russian to deal
not with questions of general character but with
their own problems which were not solved in spite
of the large participation of Jews in the
revolution of 1905.

2. Viktor Kel'ner. The Jewish Question and
Russian Social Life During World War I
Russian Studies in History, 43(1), 2004, 11-40

... A book by Ivan Tolstoi, the society’s nominal
president, titled Anti-Semitism in Russia
[Antisemitizm v Rossii] and with a foreword by
Gorky, came out in 1916, after Tolstoi’s death. A
stir was also created by the publication of With
the Zionists in Gallipoli [S evreiskim legionom v
Gallipolii], the memoirs of Colonel John Henry
Patterson, which had only just been released in
England. It is an account of the combat
operations of a British army volunteer detachment
composed mostly of Jews who had emigrated from
Russia. Vladimir [Ze’ev] Zhabotinskii and Iosif
Trumpel’dor, the Zionist co-founders of the
Jewish Legion, saw it as a step toward the
reconstitution of the Jewish state. Kornei
Chukovskii provided
the foreword for the Russian edition; as an old
friend of Zhabotinskii, he had never hidden his
support for the latter’s interpretation of
Zionism (pp. 27-28)...

3. Finally, and most importantly (the source in
Russian, though) --
Chukovskii i Zhabotinskii : istoriia
vzaimootnoshenii v tekstakh i kommentariiakh
Idem --
Chukovsky and Zhabotinsky. The History of
Relationships in Texts and Commentaries (East
European Jewish Affairs; December 2005; Volume 35
No. 2 Pages 263 – 268)

I happen to have access to the actual articles as
well as am aware of dozens of helpful and highly
relevant resources online of interest in this
context. These are in Russian. Please, all
interested, do not hesitate to contact me in case
I could be of any help in locating these sources.

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Received on Sun Apr 29 22:51 PDT 2007

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