Lev Gordon

Lev Gordon

Outstanding Jewish poet.
Country: Israel

  1. Biography of Lev Gordon
  2. Early Life and Career
  3. Writing Style and Themes
  4. Satirical Works and Activism
  5. Legacy and Publications

Biography of Lev Gordon

Lev Osipovich Gordon (Yehuda Leib) (1830, Vilna - 1892, St. Petersburg) was an outstanding Jewish poet.

Early Life and Career

In the 1850s and 1860s, Gordon worked as a teacher and later as an overseer in various government Jewish schools in the Western region. In the 1870s, he served as the secretary of the St. Petersburg Jewish community and the Society for the Enlightenment of Jews in Russia. In the early 1880s, he became the head of the scientific and critical department at the journal "Voskhod" and also edited the ancient Hebrew newspaper "Gamalitz".

Writing Style and Themes

Gordon was gifted with a rich imagination and mastered the language of the Bible. He wrote remarkable poems in this language, known for their power and vividness. In his works, Gordon initially drew inspiration from the history of his fellow Jews. In poems such as "David and Michal's Love" and "David and Virzilai", he depicted distant biblical epochs. In other works like "In the Lion's Jaws" and "In the Depths of the Sea", he portrayed the encounters of Jews with other nations (Romans, Spaniards) and depicted episodes of martyrdom and self-sacrifice, such as in the arena of the circus or during exile. A melancholic mood, influenced by the suffering of his people's past, can be found throughout Gordon's works. Some of his best elegies were written on the subject of the fate of the Jewish people, their spiritual ideals, and their future.

Satirical Works and Activism

From the mid-1860s, Gordon turned his attention to the contemporary provincial life of Russian Jews. He wrote a series of satirical works such as "Kotso Shel Yod", "Shomeret Yavam", "Two Josephs-Ben-Simons", and "Olam Kemingo", which described the abnormal conditions of this life. He criticized the backwardness and prejudices of the Jewish masses, advocated for enlightenment and internal reforms, and denounced social parasites, hypocrites, and others. This critical direction can also be seen in his journalistic activities in Jewish magazines such as "Gakarmel" and "Gamalitz". In 1874-1876, with his close involvement, the collection "Worldview of Talmudists" was published in Russian. Around the same time, he and I. G. Gerstein made a translation of the "Five Books of Moses" into Russian (Vilna, 1875). Gordon's remarkable talent as a chronicler and satirist is evident in his poems and stories written in the colloquial language of the Western Russian Jewish masses (jargon), which were published under the title "Sichat Chulin" in 1886.

Legacy and Publications

A complete collection of his poems in ancient Hebrew, "Kol Schire Jehuda Leb G.", was published in 1884. Some notable works about Gordon include Weissberg's "Jehuda L. G." (in ancient Hebrew, Kyiv, 1893), L. Kantor's "Lev O. G. and his 25-year Literary Activity" ("Voskhod", 1881, 11 and 12), and S. Dubnov's "The Jewish Nekrasov" ("Voskhod", 1884, 7). Gordon also wrote in Russian and Yiddish. He collaborated with the populists from "Narodnaya Volya" and was arrested by the authorities in 1879 for his involvement in a clandestine printing press.