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Miller, Shaye

MILLER, SHAYE

MILLER, SHAYE (1895–1958), Yiddish novelist, editor, and translator. Born in Filpovitch, Ukraine, he immigrated to the U.S. at age 17 and lived in New York and Cleveland before settling in Los Angeles ten years later. He began to publish Yiddish short stories at the age of 22, translated Maeterlinck, Tagore, and Wedekind, and published ten volumes of impressionistic stories. Miller published in the leading Yiddish periodicals of his day, including the Forverts, Der Yidisher Kemfer, Tsukunft, and Der Tog. His novel Dor Hafloge ("The Lost Generation," 1948) deals with the decay, in the new American environment, of an Eastern European Jewish family which symbolizes the pre-World War i generation of transition. The stories of Nekhtn ("Yesterday," 1956) deal largely with Los Angeles Jews: Miller gives a panoramic view of the charlatans, the noble characters, and the ordinary men and women who were caught up in California's boom-psychosis of the 1920s and ended their lives tragically during the Great Depression of the early 1930s. He stresses the nostalgia for old-fashioned Jewishness that assailed the Jews who had wrested themselves loose from their Jewish roots and who found their materially successful life empty of meaning in later years. Miller is a master of dialogue, accurately reproducing the speech, intonations, and gestures of his marginal, semi-assimilated Jews. His posthumously published essays Skeptishe Makhshoves ("Sceptical Thoughts," 1959) deal with basic questions of American-Jewish cultural survival and cast light upon his own personality and approach to literary craftsmanship.

bibliography:

Rejzen, Leksikon, 2 (1927), 417ff.; lnyl, 5 (1963), 631–4; J. Glatstein, In Tokh Genumen (1960), 328–33; S. Bickel, Shrayber fun Mayn Dor (1958), 327–34. add. bibliography: Sh. Niger, Dertseylers un Romanistn (1946), 133; Y. Botoshansky, Pshat (1952), 355–99.

[Sol Liptzin]

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