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Beyond Despair: Three Lectures and a Conversation With Philip Roth Hardcover – February, 1993


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 80 pages
  • Publisher: Fromm Intl (February 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0880641509
  • ISBN-13: 978-0880641500
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.7 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,407,197 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In three short, cogent lectures, originally delivered at Columbia University in 1991, eminent Israeli novelist Appelfeld analyzes with great sensitivity the psychology of Holocaust survivors. Many, he writes, suppressed their memories of their ordeal for years, in silent protest against suffering and fate. In some survivors, self-blame, rage and anguish coexisted, often directed outward in practical activity. Appelfeld is reticent about his own Holocaust experience. Born in Bukovina (now part of Romania), he was deported to a Nazi work camp when the war broke out. Escaping, he hid for years in forests, then wandered across the ruins of Europe, arriving in Palestine in 1946 at the age of 14; both his parents were victims of the Nazis. These horrors tested but did not destroy his religious faith, he reveals. Also included is a 1988 interview with Philip Roth in which Appelfeld discusses Kafka, Hebrew, life in Israel and the relationship between his parable-like novels and historical reality.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Israeli author Appelfeld ( Katerina , LJ 6/1/92, among many others) survived the Holocaust in the forests of Europe and then made his way to Israel. These three lectures and an interview with Philip Roth discuss various aspects of the Holocaust experience and Jewish life and literature. One of the more compelling ideas in the work is that literature is an escape from memory, a memory that is impossible to handle as a plain narrative. Appelfeld here describes the Holocaust as a human experience and explores the various ways the survivors have responded to it. He also examines the nature of pre-World War II Jewish assimilation and the Holocaust experience as a spiritual encounter. He reveals to Roth that Kafka's works were a major influence on his writing and brings out the complex nature of the modern Jewish experience. Recommended for literature and Jewish studies collections. For a review of his latest novel, Unto the Soul , see p. 157.--Ed.
- Gene Shaw, NYPL
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

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This short, excellent book consists of an introduction, three essays, and a previously published interview between Philip Roth and Appelfeld. The essays, one itself previously published in a book about writing about the holocaust, were delivered as a lecture series Appelfeld gave at Columbia in 1991.

I recommend it highly for Appelfeld fans, and for people interested in understanding a Holocaust survivor's experiences and indeed, for understanding more about how any type of survivor might processes profoundly traumatic experiences.

In these essays, Appelfeld is clear, direct, and very articulate about his thoughts and experiences, even more clear and direct than he was at times in his autobiography, "The Story of a Life." In novels like "Blooms of Darkness" and "Tzili," the emotions are true and powerful; here, Appelfeld's description of emotional experience, and his interpretation of experience, ring just as true and powerful.

Two essays resonated with me most: Lecture Two, about writing about the holocaust, and Lecture Three, about the spiritual dimensions of holocaust experience. In Lecture Two, Appelfeld focuses on the differences between writing about the holocaust in a memoir and as literature. "...the literature of testimony is undoubtedly the authentic literature of the Holocaust. It is an enormous reservoir of Jewish chronology, but it embodies too many inner constraints..." and "While the survivor recounts and reveals, at the very same time he also conceals. For it is impossible not to tell, and it is also impossible to admit that what happened did not change him...The survivor's testimony is first of all a search for relief; and as with any burden, the one who bears it seeks also to rid himself of it as hastily as possible.
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