Spiegel, Isaiah

views updated


SPIEGEL, ISAIAH (Yeshayohu Spiegel ; 1906–1990), Yiddish poet, fiction writer and essayist. Born in Balut, a poor suburb of Lodz, Poland, Spiegel was encouraged by I. *Katzenelson and M. *Broderzon, and was one of the group of young Yiddish poets active in Lodz in the 1920s. From 1926 to 1933 he taught in Yiddish schools and wrote for Yiddish journals in Poland and abroad. Spiegel was one of the few Yiddish writers of distinction to survive the Holocaust. For almost five years he lived in the Lodz ghetto; upon its destruction he was sent to Auschwitz and later to a labor camp in Saxony. He returned to Lodz after the liberation (1945) and from 1946 to 1948 taught in its Jewish school; there, he dug up a manuscript he had buried. From 1951 he lived in Israel. He published two volumes of verse and an autobiographical novel, but his most important work is his Holocaust fiction, especially his short stories: Malkhes Geto ("Ghetto Kingdom," 1947), Shtern Ibern Geto ("Stars Over the Ghetto," 1948), Mentshn in Thom ("People in an Abyss," 1949), Likht Funem Opgrunt ("Light from the Precipice," 1952), and Vint un Vortslen ("Wind and Roots," 1955). With restraint and perception, Spiegel records the fate of multitudes of ordinary men and women in his stories. Most of his stories originally written during the Holocaust were considerably revised, the documenting witness giving way to the memorializing artist.


J. Glatstein, In Tokh Genumen, Eseyen 19481956 (1956), 453–65; idem, In Tokh Genumen, Eseyen 19491959, 1 (1960), 279–86. add. bibliography: N. Gris, Fun Finsternish tsu Likht: Yeshayohu Shpigl un Zayn Verk (1974); lnyl, 8 (1981), 782–4; Y. Szeintuch (ed.), Yeshayohu Shpigl: Proza Sifrutit Migeto Lodzh (1995); L. Prager, in: S. Kerbel (ed.), Jewish Writers of the Twentieth Century (2003), 533–4.

[Leonard Prager]