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Isaac Joel Linetzky

LINETZKY, ISAAC JOEL (1839–1915), Yiddish and Hebrew novelist, essayist, and translator. He was born into a hasidic family in Podolia, Ukraine, but in his youth rebelled against this milieu and became a spokesman of the Haskalah. Linetzky published his first Hebrew article in the journal Ha-Meliz in 1865 and his first Yiddish article in its Yiddish supplement, Kol Mevaser, in 1867. In the same weekly he published his novel Dos Poylishe Yingl ("The Polish Boy," 1869), criticizing Jewish life and satirizing Hasidim. His language was coarse, colorful, and grotesque. The novel appeared in 30 editions – the last in Kiev in 1939. A sequel appeared in 1888 in Shalom Aleichem's almanac, Di Yidishe Folksbibliotek, under the title Der Vorem in Khreyn ("The Worm in the Horseradish") and in book form as Nit Toyt, nit Lebedik, oder dem Poylishn Yingls a Zun ("Neither Dead nor Alive, or the Polish Boy's Son," 1898). Linetzky also published various collections under the title Linetskis Ksovim ("Linetzky's Writings," 1876), as well as pamphlets and brochures. Among these are Der Beyzer Marshelik ("The Angry Jester," satirical poems, 1879); Amerika tsi Erets Yisroel ("America or the Land of Israel," 1888); and Di Kurtse Geografye fun Palestine ("The Short Geography of Palestine," 1888). In the collections Linetskis Ksovim he formulated his positive approach to Yiddish, regarding the language not only as a vehicle for enlightenment, but as a medium of literary expression. Linetzky translated into Yiddish part of Heinrich Graetz's history of the Jews (1883–89), Lessing's Nathan der Weise (1884), and J.L. Gordon's Kozo shel Yod. Though Linetzky's vogue faded with the rapid development of Yiddish literature and the emergence of great writers of the classical period, his major novel, Dos Poylishe Yingl, retains an enduring place in Yiddish literature.


Rejzen, Leksikon, 2 (1927), 165–74; LNYL, 5 (1963), 163–8; S. Niger, Dertseylers un Romanistn (1946), 77ff.; R. Granovsky, Linetzky un Zayn Dor (1941); S. Liptzin, Flowering of Yiddish Literature (1963), 77–8. ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: D. Miron, A Traveler Disguised (1973).

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