Yosef Haim Brenner

Yosef Haim Brenner

Yosef Haim Brenner(Hebrew: יוסף חיים ברנר), alternately Yosef Chaim Brenner or Brener, (1881 - 1921) was a Ukrainian-born Hebrew-language author, one of the pioneers of modern Hebrew literature.

Early life

Brenner was born to a poor Jewish family in Novi Mlini, Ukraine. He studied at a yeshiva in Pochep and published his first story, "Pat Lechem" ("A Loaf of Bread") in "HaMelitz", a Hebrew language newspaper, in 1900, followed by a collection of short stories in 1901. [ "Yosef Hayyim Brenner," Encyclopedia Judaica, 1972, vol. 4, p.1347] In 1902, Brenner was drafted into the Russian army. Two years later, when the Russo-Japanese War broke out, he deserted. He was initially captured, but escaped to London with the help of the General Jewish Labor Union which he had joined as a youth. He lived in an apartment in Whitechapel which doubled as an office for "HaMe'orer", a Hebrew periodical that he edited and published in 1906-1907. In 1922, Asher Beilin published "Brenner in London" about this period in Brenner's life.

Life in Palestine

Brenner immigrated to Palestine (then part of the Ottoman Empire) in 1909. He worked as a farmer, eager to put his Zionist ideology into practice. Unlike A. D. Gordon, however, he could not take the strain of manual labor, and soon left to devote himself to literature and teaching at the Gymnasia Herzliya in Tel Aviv. Brenner was murdered in southern Tel Aviv in May 1921 in the course of the anti-Jewish Arab riots known as the "massacres of 1921". The site of his murder is now marked by Brenner House, a center for the youth organization of the Histadrut, Hanoar Haoved Vehalomed.

Kibbutz Givat Brenner was also named for him, whilst kibbutz Revivim was named in honour of his magazine.

Brenner was very much an "experimental" writer, both in his use of language and in literary form. With Modern Hebrew still in its infancy, Brenner improvised with an intriguing mixture of Hebrew, Aramaic, Yiddish, English and Arabic. In his attempt to portray life realistically, his work is full of emotive punctuation and ellipses.


*"In Winter" (novel), Hashiloah, 1904 [Ba-Horef]
*"Around the Point" (novel), Hashiloah, 1904 [Misaviv La-Nekudah]
*"Min Hametzar" (novel), 1908
*"Nerves" (novella), Shalekhet, 1910 [Atzabim]
**English: "In Eight Great Hebrew Short Novels", New York, New American Library, 1983
**Spanish: In "Ocho Obras Maestras de la Narrativa Hebrea", Barcelona, Riopiedras, 1989
**French: Paris, "Intertextes", 1989; Paris, Noel Blandin, 1991
*"From Here and There" (novel), Sifrut, 1911 [Mi-Kan U-Mi-Kan]
*"Breakdown and Bereavement" (novel), Shtiebel, 1920 [Shchol Ve-Kishalon]
**English: London, Cornell Univ. Press, 1971; Philadelphia, JPS, 1971; London, [http://www.tobypress.com/books/brenner.htm The Toby Press, 2004]
**Chinese: Hefei, Anhui Literature and Art Publishing House, 1998
*"Collected Works" (four volumes), Hakibbutz Hameuchad, 1978-1985 [Ketavim]
*"Out of the Depths" or "Out Of A Gloomy Valley", Brenner's first book is a collection of 6 short stories about Jewish life in the diaspora. It was published in Warsaw 1900.
** English: Colorado, Westview Press, 1992
*"Around the Point"
** Yiddish: Berlin, Yiddisher Literarisher Ferlag, 1923
*"In the Winter"
**Yiddish: Warsaw, Literarisher Bleter, 1936


*This article draws on "יוסף חיים ברנר" (Yosef Haim Brenner) in the Hebrew-language Wikipedia. Retrieved May 29, 2005.
* [http://www.ithl.org.il/author_info.asp?id=63 Entry on the site of the Institute for Translation of Hebrew Literature]

Addional References

* “Yosef Haim Brenner” Background written by David Patterson, publishe in Ariel: A Quarterly Review of Arts and Letters in Israel #33/34, 1973

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