Page 17 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 37

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points out, tha t no Jewish community in Eastern Europe con­
sumed so much beef as to enable the shochet in the story to kill so
many oxen .”
T o which Sloan rep lied intelligently, “I subm it tha t Bashevis
has a righ t to describe fictional events tha t would never have
happened in the historic shtetl. I t simply does no t ma tter tha t no
Jewish shochet, as Ayalti ironically notes, ever had occasion to
p erfo rm the kind o f Holocaust Bashevis depicts in one o f his
more frenzied stories — no Jewish community ever ate tha t much
meat! But how many kings’ daugh ters had the ir fa th e r’s eyes
plucked out? Still, Lear’s d augh te r does, and Shakespeare seems
to have carried the scene off.”
At this point it is app rop r ia te to quote from Singer’s Nobel
Prize speech, a notable, almost noble statement. H ere are some
passages, from a “hea then ”:
“In spite o f all the disenchantments and all my skepticism, I
believe tha t the nations can learn much from the Jews, the ir way
o f thinking, the ir way o f bring ing up children , the ir finding
happiness where others see no th ing bu t misery and humiliation.
To me, the Yiddish language and the conduct o f those who speak
it is identical.”
He continued: “One can find in the Yiddish tongue and in the
Yiddish spirit expressions o f pious joy, lust fo r life, longing for
the Messiah, patience and deep appreciation o f hum an individu­
ality. T h e re is a quiet hum o r in Yiddish and a g ra titude for every
day o f life, every crumb o f success, each encoun te r o f love.”
“Yiddish,” he stated, “has no t yet said its last word. It contains
treasures tha t have not been revealed to the eyes o f the world. It
was the tongue of martyrs and saints, of dream ers and cabalists —
rich in hum o r and in memories tha t mankind may never forget.
In a figurative way, Yiddish is the wise and humble language o f us
all, the idiom o f the frigh tened and hopefu l humanity .”
Some o f Singer’s novels are lengthy narra tives;12 others are
tight and spare.,13 All are worth reading.
The Family Moskat,
The Manor,
1967 and
The Estate,
1969, actually two
segments o f a single novel called
The Manor. Enemies, A Love Story,
1972, and
1978, are not sprawling narratives, but they do ramble somewhat and are
not taut and tight.
Satan in Goray,
TheMagician ofLublin,
1960, and
The Slave,
1962,are quite
different in structure and purpose.