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Margarita Yosifovna Aliger

(1915 - 1992)

ALIGER, MARGARITA YOSIFOVNA (1915–1992), Russian poet. Aliger was born in Odessa and began to publish verse in 1933. Her prewar collections, God rozhdeniya ("Year of Birth," 1938) and Kamni i travy ("Stones and Herbs," 1940) although somewhat imitative and conventional, showed an unusual lyrical gift. She achieved fame in 1942 with her long poem Zoya (Stalin Prize, 1943) based on newspaper accounts of the life and death of a Moscow schoolgirl who fought behind the German lines during the defense of Moscow. In her long poem, "Tvoya pobeda" ("Your Victory"), Aliger, for the first time, turned to a Jewish theme and, while declaring unreserved love for her Russian homeland, bitterly complained about the historical injustice of German and Russian antisemitism. Expunged from subsequent editions of the poem, the passage in question widely circulated in manuscript during the 1940s and the 1950s. The poem reflected the ideological and emotional crisis of the Communist Jewish intelligentsia, brought about by the Holocaust and the upsurge of overt antisemitism in the U.S.S.R. during World War II. A number of her poems were translated into English by Elaine Feinstein (Collected Poems and Translations, 2002).


Kratkaya Literaturnaya Entsiklopediya, 1, 154.

[Omri Ronen]

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