Brenner, Yosef Hayim (1881–1921) By Weininger, Melissa
Yosef Hayim Brenner was born in 1881 in Novi Mlini, in the Russian Empire (now Ukraine). Like many Hebrew and Yiddish writers of his generation, he received a traditional religious education but later rejected his religious training. As a young man, Brenner migrated to urban cultural centres, including London. Brenner’s own brand of modernism was characterized by formal as well as thematic elements. Formally, Brenner’s fiction mirrored the disintegration of modern life in its circularity and fragmentation. Brenner himself linked what he called the ‘brokenness’ of reality with the formal brokenness of narrative in modernist fiction like his own. This fragmentation of the narrative reflected the existential alienation of many of his characters, who were trying to find their place in the chaos of modern life.