Isaac Babel was born in Odessa, Russia, in 1894. He won early success with stories about his native Odessa and about the exploits of the Bolshevik cavalry in the Polish campaign of 1920-21. During the 1930s his output was small, but his talent remained undiminished. He was arrested in May 1939 during the Great Purge, and his manuscripts were confiscated. His exact fate remains unknown. Although Babel's reputation was restored in 1956, he was still published only occasionally in the Soviet Union-the very strong Jewish element in his stories, as well as the ambiguous positions he took on war and revolution, made his stories uncomfortable for Soviet authorities. For a Russian reader, the Odessa Tales (1916) are particularly exotic. Their protagonists, members of the city's Jewish underworld, are presented in romantic, epic terms. The Red Cavalry stories are noted for their account of the horrors of war. In both cycles Babel relies on precisely constructed short plots, on paradox of situation and of character response, and on nonstandard, captivating language-be it the combination of Yiddish, slang, and standard Russian in the Odessa Tales or of uneducated Cossack speech and standard Russian in the Red Cavalry cycle. The result of such features is a prose heritage rare in the history of Russian literature. Isaac Babel passed away in 1941.