Horizons Blossom, Borders Vanish: Anarchism and Yiddish Literature by Anna Elena Torres

Horizons Blossom, Borders Vanish: Anarchism and Yiddish Literature by Anna Elena Torres

A bold recovery of Yiddish anarchist history and literature

Spanning the last two centuries, this fascinating work combines archival research on the radical press and close readings of Yiddish poetry to offer an original literary study of the Jewish anarchist movement. The narrative unfolds through a cast of historical characters, from the well known—such as Emma Goldman—to the more obscure, including an anarchist rabbi who translated the Talmud and a feminist doctor who organized for women’s suffrage and against national borders. Its literary scope includes the Soviet epic poemas of Peretz Markish, the journalism and modernist poetry of Anna Margolin, and the early radical prose of Malka Heifetz Tussman.

Anna Elena Torres examines Yiddish anarchist aesthetics from the nineteenth-century Russian proletarian immigrant poets through the modernist avant-gardes of Warsaw, Chicago, and London to contemporary antifascist composers. The book also traces Jewish anarchist strategies for negotiating surveillance, censorship, detention, and deportation, revealing the connection between Yiddish modernism and struggles for free speech, women’s bodily autonomy, and the transnational circulation of avant-garde literature.

Rather than focusing on narratives of assimilation, Torres intervenes in earlier models of Jewish literature by centering refugee critique of the border. Jewish deportees, immigrants, and refugees opposed citizenship as the primary guarantor of human rights. Instead, they cultivated stateless imaginations, elaborated through literature.

Year first published: 2024

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