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ASCH, SHOLOM (1880-1957).

Outstanding Yiddish novelist and dramatist. Asch spent his early youth in the small town of Kutno, Poland, where he received a traditional education. At the turn of the century he dedicated himself to literary work in Yiddish and Hebrew. One of his idyllic novels of the Jewish small town, Dos Shtetl, attracted great attention. His later plays and novels revealed him as a keen observer and vivid portrayer of Jewish life. Almost all of his important works have been translated into English and other languages: Motke the Thief, The Three Cities, Salvation, Uncle Moses, The Song of the Valley, and many other contemporary and historical novels and stories.

Asch has treated a wide range of subjects, including the saga of Jewish struggles and achievements in Europe, the U.S., and Palestine. He has caught the spirit of the revolutionary changes of our times; in his historical novels he has glorified Jewish martyrdom and piety. Some of his works based on New Testament figures, such as The Nazarene, are considered highly controversial. Two of his last novels portray the biblical figures of Moses and Isaiah. Asch lived for many years in the U.S., settled in Israel in 1956, and in October 1957, died while visiting London.

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