Vinchevsky, Morris

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VINCHEVSKY, MORRIS (pseudonym of Benzion Novakhovich ; 1856–1932), Yiddish and Hebrew writer and socialist leader. Born in Yonovo, Lithuania, he began his literary career in 1873 as a Hebrew poet and journalist, often writing under the pseudonyms "Ben Nets" ("Son of a Hawk") and "Yigal ish ha-Ru'aḥ" ("Yigal, the Man of Spirit"). Hailed by the Soviet Yiddish critics of the 1930s as the "grandfather" of Socialist Yiddish literature, Vinchevsky turned to writing Yiddish poetry in the 1880s. He lived in Germany (which he left when Bismarck's anti-socialist laws went into effect), France, and England (where he wrote pseudonymous articles in English for the socialist journals of H.M. Hyndman, one of the founders of British Socialism), before settling in New York in 1894. He was an active and committed socialist who expressed his sympathies in his often politically tendentious poetry. His work appealed to readers not only in the U.S. but also in preand post-revolutionary Russia. The basic trend of his work was humanitarian and deeply Jewish. Vinchevsky was also active in the Yiddish press, regularly contributing essays, poems, and translations to socialist publications such as the *Forverts, Der Emes, and Di Tsukunft, which he also edited. He remained politically active throughout the first decades of the 20th century and was appointed to the Jewish Commission (*Comité des délégations juives), which represented Jewish interests at the Versailles Conference after World War i. In the 1920s Vinchevsky's sympathies veered sharply to the left. He broke with many of his socialist friends and in 1924–25 spent a number of months in the U.S.S.R. In 1927 he became paralyzed and remained in poor health until his death. Vinchevsky had a long and prolific career and, in 1927–28, a 10-volume edition of his works appeared under the editorship of Kalman *Marmor. Vinchevsky's library, manuscripts, and archives (yivo), comprise a rich source for research into Yiddish literature and Jewish radical movements beginning in the 1860s.


Reyzen, Leksikon, 1 (1928), 977–82; lnyl, 3 (1960), 432–3; Klausner, Sifrut, 5 (19552), 115–20; 6 (19582), 275–311; N.B. Minkoff, Pionern fun Yidisher Poezye in Amerike, 1 (1956), 19–85; S. Liptzin, Flowering of Yiddish Literature (1963), 136–9; Kressel, Leksikon, 1 (1965), 659–61; Malachi, in: Yad la-Koré, 4 (1956) 54–8, list of his Hebrew writings; M. Vinchevsky, Works, 1 (1927), biography by K. Marmor. add. bibliography: I. Howe, World of Our Fathers (1976), 420; S. Liptzin, A History of Yiddish Literature (1972), 96.

[Henry J. Tobias /

Marc Miller (2nd ed.)]