Today, part 5 (of 10) of Grisha Freidin’s reasons for being “obsessed” with Isaac Babel:
5. Another Babel thread ran through my personal life. I married early to a young woman whose father, the sculptor Ilya Slonim, had known Babel very well. In 1916, in Petrograd, Babel practically became adopted by the Slonim family; their friendship lasted a lifetime. Ilya Slonim told us many stories about Babel and the ones he heard from Babel the raconteur. He also preserved Babel’s voluminous correspondence with his mother and a manuscript of Babel’s unfinished, and then still unpublished, novel, “A Jewess.” I read it first in manuscript at home! This marriage did not last but my personal roots nonetheless got further intertwined with those of Babel.