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Sobol, Andrey Mikhailovich

SOBOL, ANDREY MIKHAILOVICH

SOBOL, ANDREY MIKHAILOVICH (1888–1926), Russian novelist and playwright. Sobol was born in Saratov of wealthy parents. He joined the revolutionary movement at 16 and in 1906 was jailed and sentenced to hard labor in Siberia. In 1909 he escaped from prison and wandered throughout Europe in poverty, returning to Russia illegally in 1915. He began writing for both liberal and radical periodicals under the pseudonyms of Konstantin Vinogradov and Andrey Nezhdanov. Sobol had misgivings about Bolshevism and retained his faith in humanistic socialism, but, in an open letter published in Pravda in 1923, he recanted his "errors." Three years later, disillusioned with the Soviet regime, he committed suicide.

Many of Sobol's semi-autobiographical books, impressionistic and often despairing in tone, depict political émigrés. His most important novel, Pyl' ("Dust," 1915), describes the Jewish émigrés in Paris as people who "graze in foreign fields" and have no land or roots. To Sobol, Jews were strangers everywhere, even within the Russian revolutionary movement, which he regarded as riddled with antisemitism. Other works of Jewish interest written by Sobol are Nechayanno ("Inadvertently," 1916), which deals with an apostate Jew who finds no peace in his new life; Rasskazy v pis'makh ("Tales in the Form of Letters," 1916), satirical sketches of Jewish intellectuals who convert in order to further their careers; and Pereryv ("Intermission," 1923), a picture of a Paris Yiddish theater from the inside. Sobol's collected works, in four volumes, appeared in 1926 and 1928.

bibliography:

Rodin, in: S.M. Ginzburg (ed.), Yevreyskii Vestnik (1928), 69–73; Shteynman, in: A. Sobol, Sobraniie Sochineniia, 1 (1928), 7–30.

[Yitzhak Maor]

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