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Kipnis, Itzik


KIPNIS, ITZIK (1896–1974), Yiddish novelist. Born in Volhynia into a maskilic family, Kipnis worked as a tanner before being sent by his union to Kiev to study (1920). There he befriended David *Hofstein, associated with the Kiev Group, and debuted in the Kiev children's monthly Freyd (1922), becoming one of the finest Yiddish children's writers. He published a book of poetry, Oksn ("Oxen," 1923), but soon found prose to be his medium. His narrative Khadoshim un Teg ("Months and Days," 1926), depicting the pogroms of 1919–21 and idealizing his native shtetl, won acclaim from readers and critics. S. *Niger and David *Bergelson hailed him as a successor to *Sholem Aleichem, but Soviet critics, while recognizing his great narrative talent, attacked him for the apolitical and petit bourgeois character of his lyricism and idyllic melancholy. He was expelled several times from the Soviet Writers' Union for resisting Party pressure. Evacuated from Kiev during World War ii, he returned in 1944 and penned his moving sketch Babi-Yar, commemorating the German massacre of Kiev's Jews (1941) and calling for Jewish revival. In 1948, he was arrested as a Jewish nationalist and imprisoned in a remote labor camp. His rehabilitation following Stalin's death did not permit residence in a large city, so he lived in Boyarka, famed as Sholem Aleichem's Boiberik. In 1958 he returned to Kiev and published in the sole (revived) Soviet Yiddish literary periodical, Sovetish Heymland; a volume of his stories, Tsum Lebn ("To Life") was published in Moscow in 1969. In his works, published in Israel in the 1970s, he instructed the editors to restore his texts crippled by Soviet censorship.


Meisel, in: I. Kipnis, Untervegns (1960), 7–23, (introd.); S. Bickel, Shrayber fun Mayn Dor, 2 (1965), 341–7; E. Rosenthal, in: Goldene Keyt, 61 (1967), 123–68. add. bibliography: lnyl, 8 (1981), 191–5; B. Kagan, Leksikon fun Yidish Shraybers (1986), 483–7.

[Sol Liptzin /

Eugene V. Orenstein (2nd ed.)]

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