Download AMERICAN WRITERS, Volume 4 by Leonard Unger PDF

By Leonard Unger

ISBN-10: 0684136767

ISBN-13: 9780684136769

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Two marry pious Jews and slip easily into the traditional ways. Another, Miriam Lieba, is a fantasizing romantic who converts to Catholicism to plunge into a disastrous marriage with Lucian Jampolski, the Count's unstable, dissolute son. Shaindel Jacoby seemingly makes a more tenable marriage to Ezriel Babad, son of a Hasidic rabbi. But Ezriel's earlocks and black gaberdine mask a skeptic less interested in God than in science, contradictions in Holy Writ, and Voltaire, Kepler, and Newton. Such things, his father warns, lead inevitably to modern dress, loss of faith, even apostasy.

They learn instead that they can hasten the Messiah only by curbing their own appetites—and that the only certain Messiah is, again, death. In this book Singer reveals virtuosity as a Yiddish stylist, employing the archaic Hebraic Yiddish of the Hebrew pinkassim (community chronicles). Jacob Sloan's English translation ISAAC BASHEVIS SINGER / 7 must inevitably fall short of the original, yet it does convey Singer's verbal dexterity. But despite such obvious artistry, and a deft blend of the historic, demonic, and psychological, Satan in Goray is one of Singer's rare aesthetic failures.

When the latter falls ill and dies, the rabbi decides he has failed a divine test of his moral strength; he has broken, he declares, the Commandment not to kill. Resigning his position, he wanders off to do penance. Somewhat reminiscent of Saul Bellow's The Victim, "The Plagiarist" provides an evocative glance at the tangled roots of guilt and innocence. Equally relevant to today's moral confusion is "The Slaughterer," a taut, mind-wrenching variation on "Blood," Singer's earlier probing of the psychological ties between slaughter and worship.

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