The People of the Book inthe World of Books isaRussian bimonthly publication for serious readers with Jewish interests. Our English website includes only thesummaries of thepublished articles. Toaccess the complete text of them, please visit the Russian version of this website.


October 2005

This issue of the magazine includes:

• Problem: Chagall Ripped in Two

In 2005 the Tretyakov Gallery and the Russian Museum hosted new large-scale exhibitions of the work of Marc Chagall. In connection with the exhibitions, luxurious new albums were issued, in which their publishers yet again failed to say anything truly novel. Essentially, these publishers had their own agenda, attempting to prove yet again that Chagall was not a French artist but a Russian one. The author of this magazine’s polemical article stresses that any attempt to pin a national label on a master who belongs not to any single country, but to the world, is counterproductive. Marc Chagall was essentially an international artist. It is a different matter that in Chagall's art, as in his worldview, Jewishness, Yiddish, and his native Vitebsk played an enormous role, in no way inferior to that played by Russian culture. A knowledge of Jewish (as well as Russian) cultural realities is absolutely necessary to a true understanding of this great master. It is necessary to read through the half-hints—both muted and explicit cultural allusions—with which his works are so rich. Unfortunately, none of this has any presence in the numerous ruthless attempts to appropriate Chagall for one’s own side, ripping him in two. Analyzing the texts of the new albums, the author of this article presents many examples of the incompetence of Russian art critics on questions of Jewish history and culture. The concluding passage of the article is provocative: "Perhaps in order to seriously consider Chagall a Russian artist, it is all the same still worthwhile to see him first a Jewish artist?"

Synopses: New Books from Moscow Publishers

The memoirs of David McNeil, son of Marc Chagall, were first published in Russian translation in 2005. David lived with his father only ten years. Still the magazine’s reviewer discussed how his "all too short" book presents the reader with an unexpected and novel view on the life and personality of the great artist. The second review is a brief presentation of new anti-Fascist publications of the Moscow Bureau on Human Rights.

Looking Through Russian Literary Magazines: Novels and Articles of Jewish Interest

Jewish Calendar of Significant Dates: November–December 2005

Bibliography: 45 New Books