Ignatoff, David

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IGNATOFF, DAVID (1885–1954), Yiddish novelist and dramatist. Born in the Ukraine, Ignatoff was active in the revolutionary movement in Kiev (1903–06) before leaving for the United States. In 1907 he helped to found the literary group *Di Yunge which rebelled against the dominant emphasis on proletarian themes and current socialist ideas in American Yiddish literature, and advocated art for art's sake and the importance of form over subject matter. Together with I.J. *Schwartz, Ignatoff edited and published the annual Literatur (1910). In 1912 he began to issue a periodical, Shriftn, which appeared irregularly and in which he published original works by young writers, translations of world literature, and reproductions of works by Jewish painters. Ignatoff also edited the annual Velt-ayn, Velt-oys (1916). Ignatoff alternated between a colorful romanticism which idealized Jewish traditions and a radical realism which allied him with proletarian literature. The former tendency was best embodied in his Vundermayses fun Altn Prag ("Wondertales of Old Prague," 1920) and in Dos Farborgene Likht ("The Hidden Light," 1918), tales based on the narratives of R. *Naḥman of Bratslav; and the latter tendency in the novel In Keselgrub ("In the Cauldron," 1918), which deals with the struggle between degeneracy and spiritual rebirth among Jewish immigrants, and in the fictional trilogy Oyf Vayte Vegn ("Vistas," 1932), which describes the rise of the American Jewish labor movement. His later work included the biblical plays Yiftokh (1939) and Gideon (1953). A collection of essays, Opgerisene Bleter ("Stripped Leaves"), was published posthumously in Buenos Aires in 1957.


Rejzen, Leksikon, s.v.; lnyl, s.v.; F. Zolf, Undzer Kulturhemshekh (1956), 147–80; S. Liptzin, Flowering of Yiddish Literature (1963), 202, 213; C. Madison, Yiddish Literature (1968), 295–8; Waxman, Literature, 4 (1960) 1018–19. add. bibliography: R. Iceland, Fun Undzer Friling (1954), 115–21; lnyl, 1 (1956), 43–46; D. Ignatoff, Oysgeklibene shriftn (1975); M. Ravitch, Mayn Leksikon,iv (1980), 16–18.

[Elias Schulman]