ASHKINASI, MIKHAIL OSIPOVICH:
By: Herman Rosenthal
Writer in French and Russian; born at Odessa April 16, 1851. Having graduated from the Odessa High School, he studied medicine at the Academy of St. Petersburg and at the University of Kiev. Ill health forced him to discontinue his studies. While recuperating he visited, in turn, Italy, Switzerland, and Nice. In the early eighties he published in "Nedyelya" and in "Novorossiski Telegraf" a series of articles on the Jewish question, in which he advocated a change in the economic mode of Jewish life, and suggested agriculture as a means oflivelihood. At that time Ashkinasi conducted the Jewish trade-school "Trud" of Odessa. Later he established a model farm-school for Jewish children at Fiodorovka, near the same place.
In 1887 he settled permanently in Paris, where he contributed—either in his own name or under the pseudonym "Michel Delines"—articles on Russian literature to various publications, principal among which were the "Athenæum," "Siècle," "Indépendance Belge," and many others. At the same time he published at Paris: "La Terre dans le Roman Russe"; "La France Jugée par la Russie"; "L'Allemagne Jugée par la Russie"; "Nos Amis les Russes."
The western European public became acquainted with Russian literature through Ashkinasi's translations into French of several of Tolstoï's works—"Enfance et Adolescence" and "Napoléon et la Campagne de Russie," besides Shchedrin's "Za Rubezhom," under the title, "Berlin et Paris"; Goncharov's "Obryv," under the title "La Faute de la Grand'mère," 1885; and Dostoyevski's "Podrostok," under the title "Mon Père Naturel," 1886; some novels by Garschin; "Samson the Powerful," by Orzhesko; and Lazhechnikov's "Le Palais de Glace," 1889.
Among original novels in French by Ashkinasi are: "En Russie," in the "Bibliothèque Universelle," 1885; "La Chasse aux Juifs"; and "Les Victimes." He is a frequent contributor to the Russian periodicals "Nedyelya," "Novosti," and others, and since 1889 has been a regular contributor to "Paris," under the pen-name "Michel Reader."
- Vengerov, Kritico-Biograficheski Slovar Russkikh Pisatelei, s.v.;
- S. G., Literaturnaya Spravka, in Voskhod, 1889, xi.-xii. 37-38.