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Throughout his life Isaac Babel was torn by opposing forces, by the desire both to remain faithful to his Jewish roots and yet to be free of them. This duality of vision infuses his work with a powerful energy from the earliest tales including 'Old Shloyme' and 'Childhood', which affirm his Russian-Jewish childhood, to the relatively non-Jewish world of his collection of stories entitled 'Red Cavalry'. Babel's masterpiece, 'Red Cavalry' is the most dramatic expression of his dualism and in his simultaneous acceptance and rejection of his heritage heralds the great American-Jewish writers from Henry Roth to Saul Bellow and Philip Roth.
Isaak Babel (1894-1941). Short story writer and playwright who was a correspondent with the Red Army forces of Semyon Budyonny during the Russian civil war. Babel's fame is based on his stories of the Jews in Odessa and his novel Red Cavalry (1926). He was the first major Russian Jewish writer to write in Russian. DAVID MCDUFF was born in 1945 and was educated at the University of Edinburgh. His publications comprise a large number of translations of foreign prose and verse, including contemporary Scandinavian work. His first book of verse, Words in Nature, appeared in 1972. He has translated a number of nineteenth-century Russian prose works for the Penguin Classics series. These include Dostoyevsky's The Brothers Karamazov, Crime and Punishment, The Idiot (2004),The House of the Dead, Poor Folk and Other Stories, Tolstoy's The Kreutzer Sonata and Other Stories and The Sebastopol Sketches, and Nikolai Leskov's Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk. He has also translated Andrei Bely's novel Petersburg for Penguin.