KHALYASTRE


KHALYASTRE (Yid. "The Gang"), post-World War I Warsaw group of Yiddish expressionist and futurist poets. It received its title from Hillel *Zeitlin, editor of the influential Warsaw daily Moment, who used the term in a derogatory sense because the slogans and practices of the group's members outraged public opinion in their struggle against realism in art. These writers were led by Peretz *Markish, Uri Zvi *Greenberg, and Melech *Ravitch. Accepting Zeitlin's designation as a badge of honor, they termed their short-lived literary review Khalyastre. The first issue appeared in Warsaw in 1922 under the editorship of Markish and I.J. *Singer. The second, final, issue appeared in Paris two years later, under the editorship of Markish and O. *Warszawski, with illustrations by Marc *Chagall. Contributors also included D. *Hofstein, I. *Kipnis, M. Khashchevatsky, and Israel Stern. Not all of these writers were in sympathy with the flamboyant futurism of the Khalyastre, but they were impressed by the irrepressible vitality of the lyric triumvirate. Ravitch's Nakete Lider ("Naked Songs," 1921), Greenberg's Mefisto (1922), and Markish's Di Kupe ("The Mound," 1922) were among the best products of the Khalyastre. The climax of the group's striving was reached in the issues of Albatros (edited by Greenberg in Warsaw, 1922, and in Berlin, 1923), a periodical which proclaimed itself as the organ of extreme individualism in poetry. It advocated exaltation, renovation, and revolution of the spirit. It set out to fragment the language of the classical masters and to rebuild Yiddish anew. It preferred rhythmic tautness and explosiveness to rounded, melodious verses. Khalyastre came to an end with the dispersal of many of its leading figures: Markish to Soviet Russia, Greenberg to Ereẓ Israel in 1925, and Ravitch to Australia. The journal was endowed with a kind of second life with the publication of a French translation of its two issues, including the original illustrations and an exhaustive critical apparatus: Rachel Ertel, Khaliastra: La Bande (1989).

[Sol Liptzin /

Alan Astro (2nd ed.)]


Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.