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The following story appears as an English-language reading lesson in
A cite for the original can be found in Michael Gold, Jews Without Money, Carroll & Graf Publishers Inc., New York, 1984 (a reprint),; Chapter 11 "The Gangster's Mother," sections 5 and 6, pp. 130-133.
Since Gold was a lifelong Communist, there was no need to edit his work to look more anti-capitalist, although the rootless-cosmopolitan book-title was dropped.
Biographical notes on Michael Gold (1893-1967)
"Michael Gold" was a pseudonym for Itzok Isaac Granich, born 12 April 1893 (not 1894, as he sometimes erroneously stated) in New York's Lower East Side Jewish ghetto to immigrant parents. He was the first of three sons.
His father was an unsuccessful small businessman. Itzok and his brothers were forced by poverty to drop out of high school and take low-paying, unskilled jobs.
In 1914, he joined radical causes. He was able to support himself writing articles for "Masses" magazine and short plays for the "Provincetown Theatre" [which I believe was located in NYC, not Provincetown]. He heartily embraced Russia's 1917 Communist revolution, becoming a Communist for the rest of his life. He adopted the pseudonym "Michael Gold" for protection during the 1919-1920 "Palmer Raid" repressions of radicals.
In 1921-22, he was an editor of the "Liberator." In 1922, he moved to Oakland CA, working as a journalist. In 1925, he visited Moscow and returned to NYC enthusiastic for the "constructivist" theatre of Meyerhold. He wrote 2 full-length plays and "in 1926 and 1927 was instrumental in setting up radical theatrical groups."
Dissatisfied "by the turning of the 'Liberator' into a wholly political magazine," Gold helped found "The New Masses," a literary periodical intended to "revive the spirit of the old Bohemian-left-liberal alliance." It didn't really work out. In 1928, he reconstituted it as "'a magazine of workers' art and literature,'" featuring contributions by genuine workers, but it continued to languish, until the Great Depression brought a "new crop of professional writers."
Jews Without Money (1930) was his most popular and lasting work. It has been compared with John Steinbeck's Grapes of Wrath and Frank McCourt's Angela's Ashes. It was not explicitly political. Gold's later projects to weave Communist politics into literary fiction did not work out, and he never brought any to completion.
Gold was a journalist for the Communist press (eg the "Daily Worker") from 1933 off and on for the next thirty-three years. Mr. Folsom speculates Gold's temperament was better suited to the day-by-day excitement of speeches, demonstrations, picket-lines, and news-columns than to the sustained effort needed to repeat a lengthy project like Jews Without Money.
An orthodox Communist, and naturally combative as well, Gold engaged in numerous literary brawls with other left-leaning writers who fell away from the cause. For example, Folsom (p. 7) cites the following from Carlos Baker, Ernest Hemingway: A Life, Scribners, New York, 1969; p. 459:
She loved the sights of the new country, and often took her young nephew out exploring with her.
Because of the household's poverty, however, the mother, her sister, had to ask her to go out and find a sweatshop job.
"'Me, Katy?' she said sadly, 'Must I work? I am too young to work. In the old country I didn't work.'
"'No,' said my mother, 'but we're poor, sister. Here we have no cows and chickens as in Hungary. Here everyone works, even the children.'"
"So my Aunt Lena went to work in a clothing factory. The work changed her. She was tired at night, and had to wash her blouses for the next day, and do many other things. She did not sing any more and became thin and pale. After that we seldom went to see the boats on the river."
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