Vremia i my : a Russian-Jewish journal of diaspora

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Smith, Natalie Marie

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The journal Vremia i my has helped create a self-conscious Russian-Jewish immigrant community in Israel and the US For secular Jews from the former USSR, language appears stronger than religious or ‘ethnic’ identification. Russian-Jewish emigres continue to define themselves through contact with ‘deterritorialized’ language. Russian taken out of its national context can serve a people who may be disenfranchised within Russia, but who are free (especially outside Russian borders) to appropriate Russian language and literary traditions as their own. ViM has shaped language and literature to fulfill changing cultural needs; the Russian-Jewish community has created a minority literary space within a major language. Since its founding in1975, ViM has survived to become one of the most popular Russianlanguage journals in the world. vii Chapter I examines the journal’s position as a pro-Israeli publication in Russian for an international Russian-language readership. I investigate the rationale for the use of Russian, which is opposed by critical articles published in ViM that overtly support Hebrew as the only language suitable for a Jewish state, yet the articles themselves are in Russian. Chapter II investigates the journal's changing attitude toward emigration to Israel and its representation of a continuing ‘Jewish problem’ both in Israel and in the US after emigration from the USSR. Chapter III looks at the 'Jewish problem' in Russia as portrayed in ViM by its Russian-Jewish authors. A recurrent theme in the journal's fiction is alienation resulting from the writers' disenfranchisement as non-Russians and ambivalence toward the Jewish community. ViM is a distinctive literary and cultural journal whose roots are political but whose editorial direction reaches beyond politics. This dissertation is not focused on ViM’s politics per se, but rather on the interaction of editorial policy, ideological commentary and literary aesthetics. ViM is primarily concerned with the role of Jewish artists and intellectuals and their alienation from majority culture, whether it be Soviet, Israeli or American. By constructing a self-conscious Russian-Jewish intellectual community, ViM explores the alienation of a Russian reading public in Diaspora.



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