David G. Roskies is series editor of the New Yiddish Library and professor of Yiddish at the Jewish Theological Seminary.
Born in a small town in Belorussia, Ansky studied in traditional Jewish schools and was also self-educated. His writing reflects his democratic ideas and love for the poor and underprivileged, which also prompted his interest in folk psychology and in folklore, its artistic reflection. Ansky gave a highly poetic and symbolic interpretation to a popular folk belief in his play The Dybbuk, which is the story of a dead soul that enters the body of a living person as a malevolent spirit. The play is a classic of Yiddish theater.