On the Horizon: What Happened to Abramovich?
THERE is no insight into a nation’s way of thought like a copy of its chief work of reference. Equipped only with a ruler-to measure the lengths of articles-we may discover what is considered important and what barely worthy of mention, what great thinker is now considered a fool, and what fool a great thinker. We are led to mysteries, and, pondering them, may uncover insights.
So musing, one takes one’s ruler in hand and approaches the first volume, “A,” of the second edition of the Great Soviet Encyclopedia. The first edition was published twenty- five years ago, in 1926; that a great deal has happened in Russia in the meantime is a truth testified to immediately by the absence of the names of all the original editors from the new masthead. I turned to the section of the encyclopedia dealing with noteworthy individuals of the name “Abramovich.” In the first edition, I recalled, Sholom Jacob Abramovich, better known to literature under his nom de plume Mendele Mocher Seforim, had been given a lengthy article, as befitted the father of Yiddish literature. But my ruler now hung helpless in my hand-not a line. The full two columns of the first edition of 1926 had disappeared without a trace.
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