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Book Details

  • Paperback
  • Bookstore's Wholesale Price: $18
  • December 2009
  • ISBN: 978-0-393-92703-0
  • 5.6 × 9.3 in / 544 pages
  • Territory Rights: Worldwide

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Isaac Babel's Selected Writings


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Isaac Babel (Author), Gregory Freidin (Editor, Stanford University), Peter Constantine (Translator)


This Norton Critical Edition is based on Peter Constantine’s incomparable translations, which are introduced and annotated by the renowned Babel scholar Gregory Freidin.

Isaac Babel’s work has left an indelible mark on modern literature. The scope of this Norton Critical Edition surpasses that of any other Babel paperback edition and includes his fiction, nonfiction, autobiography, plays, and political writings together with the contextual and critical materials necessary for in-depth study.

Background materials include “Selected Letters of Isaac Babel to His Sister and Mother, 1926-1939,” a rich collection of letters–sixty-eight in all, as well as “Isaac Babel Through the Eyes of His Contemporaries,” reminiscences by the contemporaries who knew Babel best, including Maxim Gorky, Tamara Ivanova (Kashirina), M. N. Berkov, and Dmitry Furmanov, among others.

“Criticism” reprints four major assessments of Babel’s legacy by Viktor Shklovsky, Lionel Trilling, Efraim Sicher, and Gregory Freidin.

A Chronology and a Selected Bibliography are also included.


Endorsements & Reviews

“A celebration of literary genius framed by 20th-century tragedy.” — Richard Bernstein, New York Times

“The stories of Isaac Babel have kept their timeless radiance.” — James Salter, Los Angeles Times Book Review


    A Note on the Translations and Annotations

    A Note on the Organization of the Collection


    Isaac Babel’s Selected Writings

    1. Unacknowledged Beginning Old Shloyme
    2. Conquering Petersburg


    1. Elya Isaakovich and Margarita Prokofievna
    2. Mama, Rimma, and Alla
    3. The Bathroom Window


    1. The Public Library
    2. Nine
    3. Odessa
    4. Doudu


    1. Shabos-Nakhamu


    1. Mosaic
    2. An Incident on the Nevsky Prospekt
    3. At the Station: A Sketch from Life


    1. An Evening with the Empress
    2. Chink
    3. The Sin of Jesus
    4. Line and Color
    5. Guy de Maupassant
    6. The Road
    7. The Ivan and Maria
    8. Maria: A Play in Eight Scenes

    The Polish Campaign: Civil War or World Revolution


    1. Crossing the River Zbrucz
    2. The Church in Novograd
    3. A Letter
    4. The Reserve Cavalry Commander
    5. Pan Apolek
    6. Italian Sun
    7. Gedali
    8. My First Goose
    9. The Rabbi
    10. The Road to Brody
    11. The Tachanka Theory
    12. Dolgushov’s Death
    13. The Commander of the Second Brigade
    14. Sashka Christ
    15. The Life of Matvey Rodionovich Pavlichenko
    16. The Cemetery in Kozin
    17. Prishchepa
    18. The Story of a Horse
    19. Konkin
    20. Berestechko
    21. Salt
    22. Evening
    23. Afonka Bida
    24. At Saint Valentine’s
    25. Squadron Commander Trunov
    26. Ivan and Ivan
    27. The Continuation of the Story of a Horse
    28. The Widow
    29. Zamosc
    30. Treason
    31. Czesniki
    32. After the Battle
    33. The Song
    34. The Rabbi’s Son


    1. Argamak
    2. The Kiss

    1920 DIARY


    1. We Need More Men Like Trunov
    2. The Knights of Civilization
    3. Murderers Who Have Yet to Be Clubbed to Death
    4. Her Day

    The Caucasus

    1. At the Workers’ Retreat
    2. Bagrat-Ogly and the Eyes of His Bull
    3. Information

    The Odessa Stories

    1. The King
    2. How Things Were Done in Odessa
    3. Lyubka the Cossack
    4. Sunset: A Play in Eight Scenes
    5. Karl-Yankel
    6. The End of the Almshouse
    7. Froim Grach

    Collectivization and the Five-Year Plan

    1. Gapa Guzhva
    2. Kolyvushka
    3. Petroleum


    1. Dante Street
    2. The Trial

    Autobiographical Fiction: Childhood

    1. At Grandmother’s
    2. The Story of My Dovecote
    3. First Love
    4. The Awakening
    5. In the Basement
    6. Di Grasso

    Selected Letters of Isaac Babel to His Sister and Mother, 1926-1939

    Isaac Babel Through the Eyes of His Contemporaries

    1. Nathalie Babel • [The Family]
    2. M. N. Berkov • We Knew Each Other since Childhood
    3. Pyotr Pilsky • [The Young Babel]
    4. Elena Pilsky • [Babel in Odessa, 1919–1920]
    5. Konstantin Paustovsky • Life’s Novel. The Time of Great Expectations
    6. Yuri Annenkov • Isaac Babel
    7. Dmitry Furmanov • Notes from the Diary 1925–1926
    8. Semyon Gekht • By the Walls of the Passion Monastery on a Summer Day in 1924
    9. Kornei Chukovsky • Diary (1901–1969)
    10. Tamara Ivanova (Kashirina) • A Chapter from My Life
      1. (Memoirs, Letters of I. Babel)
    11. Vyacheslav Polonsky • Diary, 1931–1932
    12. Stalin-Kaganovich Correspondence
    13. Gorky’s Letter to Babel about Maria
    14. Boris Souvarine • My Last Conversations with Babel
    15. Ilya Ehrenburg • A Book for Adults
      1. • People, Years, Life
    16. Clara Malraux • The Sound of Our Steps: Suddenly Summer Comes
    17. Valentina Khodasevich • Babel as I Saw Him
      1. • Meetings at A. M. Gorky’s Country House Before and After His Death
    18. NKVD Reports on Babel, 1934–1936
    19. Erwin Sinko • A Novel about a Novel. Moscow Diary
    20. Nadezhda Mandelstam • Hope against Hope
    21. Tatyana Stakh • [The Search]
    22. Antonina Pirozhkova • At His Side: The Last Years of Isaac Babel


    1. Viktor Shklovsky • Isaac Babel: A Critical Romance
    2. Semyon Budyonny • The Babism of Babel from Red Virgin Soil
    3. Lionel Trilling • The Forbidden Dialectic
    4. Efraim Sicher • Midrash and History: A Key to the Babelesque Imagination
    5. Gregory Freidin • The Other Babel

    Isaac Babel: A Chronology

    Selected Bibliography