Isaak Babel, Konarmiya [Red Cavalry]

Philip Ross Bullock (University of Oxford)
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“A Jew who climbs onto a horse stops being a Jew and becomes a Russian.” This statement – from Isaak Babel''s play




] – expresses the central dilemma of



Red Cavalry

]. For in 1920, Babel' – a myopic, asthmatic Jew from Odessa – was despatched as a correspondent to cover the Soviet Union's first foreign military adventure, the Soviet-Polish war, where he observed the infamously anti-Semitic Cossacks of General Budyonny's cavalry. Babel' kept a record of his experiences (published in English in 1995 as the 1920


), but soon realised that his gifts were not those of a historian: “in the process of writing, my aim of keeping within the parameters of historical truth began to shift, and I decided instead to express my thoughts in a literary form”.…

2227 words

Citation: Bullock, Philip Ross. "Konarmiya". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 27 September 2006 [, accessed 22 June 2024.]

11550 Konarmiya 3 Historical context notes are intended to give basic and preliminary information on a topic. In some cases they will be expanded into longer entries as the Literary Encyclopedia evolves.

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