Lives in the Yiddish Theatre


Saul Yosef Yanovsky


Y. was born in April 1864 in Pinsk, Poland. His father was a cantor. Until age thirteen he learned in a cheder and Talmud Torah. He excelled in "goyishe studies", and under the influence of his brother, Yakov Tsvi, a Hebrew teacher and writer, he deserted the Gemorah and became an extern, learning with a useless teacher and by himself [gave hours=gegeben shtundn].

In 1885 he went away to America, where he for the first time became a dark writer; he washed dishes, gegeyt zek, for two years was a hat maker, then he joined the Workers' Movement, became one of the first agitators in Yiddish and an anarchist of the movement until 1917.

Y. was literary active at the beginning only in Russia in "Ned'lya", and over in America he became the fact editor of the first Yiddish anarchist newspaper "Di varhayt", then he became an agent of Singer's new machines.

In 1890 he traveled to London, where he became a speaker and editor of  the "Arbeter-fraynd", and for a certain time also worked as a stick maker.

In 1894 he returned to New York, where he took over the redaction of the anarchist "Fraye arbeter shtime", and when the newspaper went under, he took on various jobs, including acting as an agent for an insurance business.


In 1899 he became editor of the revamped "Fraye arbeter shtime", where he was active as an article writer, critic and translator. Especially attentive, Y. gift to the Yiddish theatre was his almost weekly reviews under the pseudonym "D. B." In his memoirs he writes that his work as a critic was on course, and he developed from the Yiddish theatre in America.

In the "Fraye arbeter shtime" (11 November 1905 to 20 January 1906), Y. published his translation of Bernard Shaw's "Mrs. Warren's Profession", the translation of which was listed under his name, was performed on 25 September 1918 (under the direction of Maurice Schwartz with Anna Appel as "Mrs. Warren) in a free adaptation in the Irving Place Theatre. Among his many published translations in book form, one also finds translations of Henryk Ibsen's "Der folks-feynd" [issued form the brochure group of the Progressive Library, New York, 1906].

Y. also in book form translated from the Yiddish Brie's "Farbrakirte skhurh", "Drey shvester" and Bernard Shaw's "Candide", "Der man in di vofn" and "Der mentsh un der ibermentsh" (not completed).

Sh. E.

  • Zalmen Reyzen -- "Lexicon of the Yiddish Literature", Vol. I, pp. 1219-1224.

  • Y. Zalot -- Ibsen's "Folks feynd" in idish, "Der arbeter", N. Y., 22 June 1907.

  • D. B. [Sh. Yanovsky] -- In theater "Fraye arbeter shtime", N. Y., 5 October 1918.

  • Yakov Magidov -- "Der shpigel fun der ist seyd", "Fraye arbeter shtime", N. Y., 26 January, 1 February 1929.






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Adapted from the original Yiddish text found within the  "Lexicon of the Yiddish Theatre" by Zalmen Zylbercweig, Volume 2, page 912.

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