GURSHTEIN, AARON (1895–1941), Soviet Yiddish literary historian, critic, and editor. Born in Krolevets (Ukraine), Gurshtein attended a Jewish secondary school in Vilna and later studied Hebrew literature at the University of Petrograd. In 1920, he enlisted in the Red Army, in which he served for several years. In 1923, he published his first essay in Emes, the Yiddish organ of the Communist Party. He wrote Marxist treatments of 19th century Yiddish authors such as Sholem Yankev *Abramovitsh, I.L. *Peretz, and *Shalom Aleichem, and also analyzed the works of his contemporaries such as David *Bergelson, Der *Nister, Ezra *Finenberg and Shmuel *Halkin. During the thaw of the New Economic Policy (nep), he welcomed the more liberal tendency to evaluate art aesthetically and not politically. His study Vegn Undzer Kritik ("About Our Criticism," 1925) was tolerant even of symbolism. By 1933, however, when with M. *Viner he wrote Problemesfun Kritik ("Problems of Criticism"), he retreated from his earlier tolerance and accepted socialist realism as the only desirable artistic approach. Gurshtein enlisted for service in World War ii and in 1941 died in combat.
lnyl, 2 (1958), 204f. add. bibliography: Y. Shatski, in: yivo Bleter, 23 (1944), 125–39.
[Sol Liptzin /
Marc Miller (2nd ed.)]