The Spinoza of Market Street by Isaac Bashevis Singer
London : Secker & Warburg, 1962. First UK edition. Hardcover. 214 pages ; 19 cm. 18 shilling dust jacket. Small foxed strip along the front flyleaf and one on the rear endpaper as well. Pages toned and unmarked. Binding is firm.
This collection of eleven stories will enhance the reputation of the author already established with his earlier books, GIMPEL THE FOOL and THE MAGICIAN OF LUBLIN. A brilliant representative of Yiddish culture, he is one of America's outstanding contemporary writers; his work, distinguished by a spare yet witty style, has a quality that is both medieval and sophisticated.
The effect of these stories ranges from the pathetically touching to the profoundly moving. THE SPINOZA OF MARKET STREET is concerned with Dr. Fischelson, the philosophic intellectual who is reluctantly brought down to earth by the unlikely heroine, Black Dobbie. While Singer uses intellectual means to expose the vanity of a barren intellectualism, he fills the story with charm, pathos and humanity.
In THE TALE OF THE TWO LIARS, he shows us a world governed by diabolical powers; witty devils are their emissaries. The stories are sometimes fantastic, always funny. In THE DESTRUCTION OF KRESHEV, a moving story of a secret disciple of Sabbatical Zevi, the false Messiah of the seventeenth century who undermines the virtue of his beautiful wife, Singer strikes through the mask of human beings who look simple on the surface, and discovers unfathomable depths below.
In A PIECE OF ADVICE, the wisdom of the Chassidic Rabbi cures the bad temper of a skeptical opponent, who has nearly ruined his own life. All his work has a mysterious poetic light and an air of symbolic suggestiveness and his artistic method is far removed from the prosaic realism which produces no spiritual echoes.
ISAAC BASHEVIS SINGER was born in Radzymin, Poland, in 1904. His father and both grandfathers were rabbis. After a traditional Jewish education, he attended a rabbinical seminary in Warsaw and then began to write fiction in Hebrew, later turning to Yiddish. In 1935 he went to the United States and since then has been on the staff of The Jewish Daily Forward.
Three of his works have appeared in English translation: The Family Moskat, Satan in Goray and The Magician of Lublin; and Gimpel the Fool, his first collection of short stories, appeared in 1957. His reputation in the English-speaking world has grown steadily, and The Times Literary Supplement called Gimpel the great schlemiel story in literature. Kenneth Rexroth in Commentary has said of Isaac Bashevis Singer: ' 'One of the most remarkable American authors who has ever lived."
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