Yosef Haim Brenner (1881-1921) was born in Novi Mlini, Ukraine. He received a religious education but as a young man joined the Bund, a Jewish socialist movement, and later became a Zionist. He published his first story in 1900.
At the outbreak of the Russo-Japanese war, after serving in the Russian army for three years, he escaped to London with the help of friends. There he worked as a typesetter and edited a Hebrew publication. He immigrated to Eretz Israel in 1909.
Brenner initially worked as an agricultural laborer in Hadera but later taught Hebrew grammar and literature in high school. When the Jews of Jaffa and Tel Aviv were driven out by the Turkish authorities, he moved to Hadera, returning to Jaffa only after the British conquest.
Essayist, critic, commentator, translator, novelist and poet, Brenner was the most prominent literary figure in Eretz Israel in his day, and in effect shifted the center of Hebrew literary activities away from Europe.
Brenner, killed by Arab rioters in 1921, expounded apparently paradoxical views. An ardent Zionist who passionately encouraged immigration, he was an equally fierce critic of both Zionism and Jews. A scathingly honest pessimist by nature, his prose nonetheless professes a belief in artistic truth when all other faith fails. In Brenner`s vision, life is comprised of never-ending hardship and disaster; it is nothing more than a struggle for existence in a world of darkness and illusion. His characters, skeptical and hesitant, flee into madness and death, and Judaism is portrayed as fading.
Books Published in Hebrew
|Out of a Gloomy Valley (stories), Warsaw: Tushiyah, 1900 [Me-Emek Achor]|
|In Winter (novel), Ha-Shiloah [periodical], 1903; Krakow: Ahiasaf, 1904 [Ba-Choref]|
|Around the Point (novel), Ha-Shiloah [periodical], 1904 [Misaviv La-Nekuda]|
|Beyond the Border (play) Ha-Meorer [periodical], 1907; London: Y. Groditzky, 1907 [Me-Ever Li-Gvulin]|
|Out of the Depth [Out of Distress] (novella), Ha-Olam [weekly], 1908-1909; Hakibbutz Hameuchad/ Siman Kriah, 2006 [Min Ha-Meitzar]|
|Between Water and Water (novella), Warsaw: Sifrut, 1909; Gvanim, 1996 [Bein Mayim Le-Mayim]|
|Collected Works [1 vol.], Kruglyiakov, 1909 [Kitvei Y. H. Brenner]|
|Nerves (novella), Lvov: Shalechet [anthology], 1910 [Atzabim]|
|From Here and There (novel), Warsaw: Sifrut, 1911 [Mi-Kan U-Mi-Kan]|
|The Way Out (story), Ha-Aretz Ve-Ha-Avoda [periodical], 1919; Hapoel Hatzair, 1921 [Ha-Motza]|
|Breakdown and Bereavement
, New York: Stybel, 1920; Am Oved, 1972; Hakibbutz Hameuchad, 2006 [Shchol Ve-Kishalon, O, Sefer Ha-Hitlabtut]|
|The Slander (story), Ha-Adama [periodical], 1920 [Avla]|
|Collected Works [8 vols. in 9 books], Stybel, 1924-1930; [3 vols.], Am Oved, 1946-1951; [3 vols.], Hakibbutz Hameuchad, Dvir, 1955-1967; [4 vols.], Hakibbutz Hameuchad, 1978-1985 [Kol Kitvei Y. H. Brenner; Ktavim]|
|From the Beginning (novella), Tarmil, 1971 [Me-Hatchala]|
|Stories, Hakibbutz Hameuchad, 1980 [Bein Mayim Le-Mayim; Atzabim; Ha-Motza; Avla]|
|The Yiddish Writings, Anna and Harry Singer Chair in Yiddish Studies/ Ben-Gurion University, 1985 [Ha-Ktavim Ha-Yiddiyim]|
|In Winter; Around the Point (novels), Dvir, 1988; 2007 [Ba-Choref; Mi-Saviv La-Nekuda]|
|The Way Out; The Slander (stories), Babel, 2001 [Ha-Motza; Avla]|
|At Night (story), Sfarim, 2006 [Ba-Neshef]|
Books in Translation
English: London, Cornell Univ. Press, 1971; Philadelphia, JPS, 1971; New York/London, Toby Press, 2004
Chinese: Hefei, Anhui Literature and Art, 1998
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, lntertextes, 1989; Paris, Noel Blandin, 1991
Out of the Depths
English: Colorado, Westview Press, 1992; New York/London, Toby Press, 2008
Around the Point
Yiddish: Berlin, Yiddisher Literarisher Verlag, 1923
In the Winter
Yiddish: Warsaw, Literarisher Bleter, 1936