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August 30, 1985 - Image 8

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1985-08-30

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.



:‘ V 3 4 I i ■ ,

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS
8 Friday, August 30, 1985
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tiny old woman recalls her you
ful folly in Poland where she
came pregnant by her husban
live-in tailor's apprentice, a me
boy, who decades later, in a sto
of love and fate, after the love
have parted and gone separate
to America, unknowingly b
comes his own daughte
paramour. "Miracles," "A Tel
phone Call on Yom Kippur" a
"Confused" use the same strate
"Confused is the most acco
plished story in the collection. It
Singer at his best. It deals wi
the problems of writers out on
lecture circuit beset by amoro
women who throw themselves
their feet. The protagonist is
aged writer willing to take adva
tage of this situation.
The right track for Singer,
spite the excesses of his ch
acters, sexual and otherwise,

(Farrar Straus Giroux), Isaac
Bashevis Singer writes that "lit-
erature thrives best on ancient
faith, timeless hopes, and illu-
sions." Enlarging upon this ob-
servation, he says that literature
"must deal with the past instead
of planning the future. It must de-
scribe events, not analyze ideas;
its topic is the individual, not the
masses. It must be an art, not pre-
tend to be a science. Moreover, be-
lief in God and His Providence is
the very essence of literature. It
tells us that causality is nothing
but a mask on the face of destiny.
Man is constantly watched by
powers that seem to know all his
desires and complications. He has
free choice but he is also being led
by a mysterious hand. Literature
is the story of love and fate, a de-
scription of the mad hurricane of
human passions and the struggle
"The Image and
with them."
Few other writers today would Other Stories" by
endorse Singer's unflinching,
sweeping insistence on a belief in Isaac Bashevis
divine providence, but for him it is
the infrastructure which supports Singer. Farrar
all that he has written. This Strauss Giroux.
seems strange since he has fre-
quently been charged in the past
with appealing to prurience, fil- the consistently reiterated e
ling his stories with unconsciona- phasis upon the belief in God a
ble depravity. Evil rather than His monitoring of individu
good has seemed to be his metier. human activity. More than o
Yet to apprehend the full mean- character figuratively dies
ing of his statement quoted above shame after capitulating tote
is to come face to face with the tation, while still others reb
fundamental narrative strategy temptation only out of sheer fe
of a master storyteller.
of losing their salvation. Thou
Certainly, the actions of his they do not often occupy cen
Image and
characters in are The
almost entirely stage, the lives of decent peop
Other Stories
motivated by "the mad hurricane both men and women, and the
of human passions." In story after ficacy of good deeds are kept
sto, one character after another fore us. The ethics, the teachi
story
seeks his or her own victimize- and
the philosophically
wisdom of the and
Fathe
prevail
son
tion, to say nothing of the exploi- times in actual experience ov
tation of others, by indulging for-
bidden passions. Lust leads the depravity
weakness.
What and
is salutary
in Singe
pack. This has long been Singer's
stock-in-trade, but it never seems work is that the moral impel
to go stale. The commission of an tives are conjoined
to b Jewish
weak, cc
81
eople may
act of wickedness is often followed tinuity. P temptation
, t eempt othl
immediately by punishment, at comb
to in folly, yet even tb
and engage
least, in the perpetrator's perspec- have a sense of the significance
'
tive, confirming that "casuality is ethical conduct.
nothing but a mask on the face of
Suffice it to say that Sing(
destiny." If punishment doesn't paradox, the co-existence of g(
occur, the perpetrator is at least and evil is, by virtue of Jew
painfully aware of his or her folly. survival (a contradiction of I
In "Advice," the opening story,
of nature), somewhat
when Tamara Pintchover runs off laws
in favor of the good. Ti
wih Mark Lenchner, her husband solved.
perhaps,
the one significant!
Morrie, a weakling, is sub- we need is to
before
sequently prevailed upon by the whenever we keep
reach for Sing
renegade couple to take them in, titillating stories. It is a narral
as times are hard, under his roof, strategy that corresponds al
along with Lenchner's wife.
to our experience of ,
Foolishly, he does so. The moral is rately
world
and it makes plans]
clear enough: But Singer doesn't
faith in divine pry
Singer's
stop with a didactic message. His
deuce.
purpose is to entertain.

Rep. Honored

10.5:30
104:30
10.5:00
GEM / DIAMOND spEcini,isT

Daily
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Sat

• •
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SpEcial To The Jewish News

The need to legitimize folly and
enshrine it becomes a device
which Singer employs effectively
as a narrative strategy in a
number of stories. The result is
New York — U,S. Rep.
that he gets an additional dimen-
sion of irony out of each confes- Green (R-NY) will receive
sion. All his narrators; have to do American 011T Fedora
is listen and report what they Community Achievement AI
hear,
at a taatimonisi dinner Oct
In "The Secret," for example, a in New York.

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Pm'

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In his succinct introduction to

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