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Taytsh, Moyshe

(1882–1935), Yiddish poet and prose writer. Born in Vartai, Moyshe Taytsh studied with private teachers until the age of 14, when he was sent to nearby Vilna. He finished school at the Jewish Teachers Institute and was admitted to the institute proper, but soon was expelled for disciplinary reasons. In 1901, Taytsh was imprisoned for involvement in Bundist revolutionary activities. In prison he began to write Yiddish poems, influenced by Avrom Reyzen.

Taytsh’s first Yiddish publications appeared in 1902 in Warsaw, where he settled after his liberation. He also wrote in Hebrew and Russian, and by 1910 had published three volumes. Soon he became a professional Yiddish journalist and editor, living in Odessa from early on in the second decade of the century. Landscape lyrics played a central role in his poetry, and in particular he created cheerless pictures of fall and winter. The decline of the shtetl was another motif of his poems. His prose, on the other hand, described fantastic, exotic love affairs.

During World War I, Taytsh lived in Moscow, Kursk, and Kharkov, working for ORT and EKOPO. He joined the Folkspartey in 1917 and briefly worked at the Ukrainian Ministry of Jewish Affairs in Kiev the following year. Five of his books—including poetry, prose, material for children, and even an ideological pamphlet—were published in Kharkov in 1918 and 1919. He edited the first Yiddish paper in the city, Kharkiver tsaytung, which began appearing as a weekly in August 1918 but soon closed.

Taytsh became a Communist and in 1920 was transferred to Moscow to work on the editorial staff of the central Yiddish daily Der emes. He was elected to the managing committee of the Moscow Circle of Yiddish Writers and Artists in September 1921. The following January, he was among the organizers of the first Yiddish proletarian literary group in Moscow. He and Khayim Gildin attempted unsuccessfully to launch a periodical for the group in 1923. At that time, Moyshe Litvakov, editor of Der emes, ridiculed Taytsh’s poems as trivial and worthless.

In the mid-1920s, Taytsh reinvented himself as a realist writer and was praised by Soviet critics. Within Soviet Yiddish literary circles, dominated by writers whose works were published after 1917, he symbolized a link with the literary tradition of the prerevolutionary labor movement. From 1928, the People’s Commissariat for Enlightenment paid him a personal pension. His two most significant prose works in the Soviet period, A hoyf af Tshebotarske (A Courtyard at Chebotarska) and Der toyt fun khaver Vulye (The Death of Comrade Vuli), also came out in Russian translations: Dom na Chebotarskoi (1928) and Smert’ tovarishcha Vuli (1930).

The Vilna-based Kletskin publishing house produced a selection of Taytsh’s 1903–1923 writings, Far tsvantsik yor (For Twenty Years; 1927). His article “Piat’ let Evsektsii MAPP” in the Moscow Literaturnaia gazeta (13 January 1930) summed up the first five years of the Yiddish section at the Moscow Association of Proletarian Writers. Posthumously, in 1936, his Geklibene verk (Selected Works) appeared in Moscow, and two volumes—Lider (Poems) and Zashtotne (stories set in a turn-of-the-century Jewish community with this name)—were published in Minsk.

Suggested Reading

Gennady Estraikh, “Yiddish Literary Life in Soviet Moscow, 1918–1924,” Jews in Eastern Europe 2 [42] (2000): 25–55; Gennady Estraikh, “The Kharkiv Yiddish Literary World, 1920s–Mid-1930s,” East European Jewish Affairs 32.2 (2002): 70–88.