Minkoff, Nahum Baruch

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MINKOFF, NAHUM BARUCH (1893–1958), Yiddish poet, critic, literary historian. Born in Warsaw, he immigrated to the U.S. in 1914 and graduated from New York University's Law School in 1921. But instead of practicing law, he taught at Jewish schools, the Jewish Teachers' Seminary, the New School for Social Research, and edited the Yiddish literary monthly Tsukunft. Together with the poets A. *Glantz-Leyeles and Jacob *Glatstein, he issued the first manifesto of the *In-Zikh group, emphasizing modernism, cosmopolitanism, and individualism. In his five collections of poetry published between 1924 and 1952, Minkoff tried to analyze emotions and moods intellectually. He succeeded in his poems on the Holocaust, Baym Rand ("At the Edge," 1945). As a trained musician, he had an impeccable ear for tonal effects and for verse melodies. His critical essays and studies in literary history strengthened his position in Yiddish literature. He wrote studies of Elijah *Levita (1950), *Glueckel of Hameln (1952), and a monumental work in three volumes, Pionern fun Yidisher Poezye in Amerike ("Pioneers of Yiddish Poetry in America," 1956). Regarding literary criticism as a scientific discipline, he attempted an intellectual, objective evaluation and classification of writers and their works – an approach which had found embodiment in his earlier works of criticism in the books Yidishe Klasiker Poetn ("Yiddish Classic Poets," 1939), Zeks Yidishe Kritiker ("Six Yiddish Critics," 1954), and Literarishe Vegn ("Literary Ways," 1955).


Rejzen, Leksikon, 2 (1927), 425ff.; lnyl, 5 (1963), 656–62; N.B. Minkoff 1893–1958 (1959); A. Glantz-Leyeles, Velt un Vort (1958), 110–35; S. Bickel, Shrayber fun Mayn Dor (1958), 222–30; J. Glatstein, In Tokh Genumen (1960), 301–5.

[Shlomo Bickel]

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