Jidišakalbių literatūrinių sambūrių savikūra tarpukario Kaune: "Vispe"ir "Mir aleyn"
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AbstractArticle explores two programmatic texts of the Yiddish literary groups "Vispe" and "Mir aleyn" as documents of collective identity construction and seeks to answer the question: which possible local and trans-national discourses meet up in such processes of self-creation and how may the articulated positions be further incorporated into global contexts? Both texts appeared in the miscellanies of the groups, published in Kaunas in 1921 ("Vispe", Yiddish "Island") and in 1930 ("Mir aleyn", Yiddish "We Alone" or "We Ourselves") under the titles "Di vispe" and "Mir aleyn". Although neither is called a "manifesto", the paper demonstrates that their structures, subjects, rhetoric, and metaphors coincide with characteristics of avantgarde manifestoes. "Di vispe" and in part "Mir aleyn" are written in "we" form and suggest that collective intentions are expressed. The manifesto "Di vispe" has a structure of short paragraphs, some of them anaphoric; both manifestoes distinguish between "old" and "young", call for a fight against traditions, materialism, and authorities, and express the aim to change reality by means of art; finally, the manifesto "Mir aleyn" seeks to downgrade the literary works of the "Vispe" authors as graphomanic literature and launches a local Yiddish avant-gardistic polemic. Like many Yiddish and non-Yiddish Eastern European literary groups, including Lithuanian avant-garde groups that appeared in Kaunas approximately at the same time, "Vispe" and "Mir aleyn" combine in their manifestoes the principles of modern aesthetics and nationalist ideologies. Both manifestoes are engaged with so-called Jewish diaspora nationalism and the secular Yiddishism associated with Y. L. Peretz, Chaim Zhitlovsky, and many other Yiddish cultural and literary leaders.
Some differences are to be mentioned. In the manifesto of "Vispe" the trans-national orientation is emphasized and an optimistic attitude towards Jewish diaspora culture is expressed, the actors shaping themselves mighty and able "to save the world". In the programmatic text of "Mir aleyn" the local-civic dimension becomes important as "the Lithuanian land" and "the Lithuanian state" emerge as an essential basis of identification. At the same time, partly recalling the imagery of Oswald Spengler’s Decline of the West, the manifesto articulates a pessimistic vision regarding the future of Jewish culture in the Lithuanian republic and argues that the authors of "Mir aleyn" are about to disappear because of mass migration. That’s why they should consolidate their final efforts and leave traces on the trans-national Yiddish literary landscape. With the concepts of "poet-Messiah", "artists’ community", an utopian vision of an ideal "new time", pathos, metaphors like "new spirit", "storm", "sea", and others, the manifesto "Di vispe" relates to the discourse of German messianic expressionism. The manifesto "Mir aleyn" is by contrast of a more eclectic character and combines various ideas of Neoromanticism, New Objectivity, and Decadence. The paper argues that the manifestoes of both literary groups constitute openness to actual trans-national discourses of the Post World War I period and hence they also mark some significant similarities with tendencies in Kaunas’s Lithuanian literature of the period.