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A Crown of Feathers Paperback – April 1, 1981


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 342 pages
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (April 1, 1981)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0374516243
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374516246
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.8 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #569,714 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Language Notes

Text: English, Yiddish (translation) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Isaac Bashevis Singer (1904–91) was the author of many novels, stories, and children’s books. He received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1978.

Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5 stars
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14%
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See all 7 customer reviews
He is a master short story and novel writer.
Israel Drazin
"Property" is an interesting look into the political theory of anarchism.
Ziggy, the Last of the Space Cowboys
A wonderful story in a wonderful collection by a wonderful writer.
An admirer of Saul

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Ziggy, the Last of the Space Cowboys on January 22, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
The late Isaac Bashevis Singer was a storyteller of genius, and "A Crown Of Feathers", is one of his finest collections of short stories, and because of its variety, serves as a superb intoduction to this master storyteller. This was my first Singer book. I picked it up at a garage sale some time back after reading a brief synopsis of the book and a quote stating that Isaac Bashevis Singer is the "greatest writer alive today" (this edition of the book is quite old, as Singer died in 1991).
The stories had two qualities which I found highly enjoyable. Firstly, Singer's combination of modern realism with Jewish folklore and fantasy is what first got me hooked, as I myself am Jewish and have a great interest in our religion, folklore and mythology. Secondly, the simple, direct style in which the stories were written. It was as if Singer himself was sitting in front of me telling a story. The book certainly did not disapoint and I finished it in a matter of days. It was such an enthralling read, that I raided most the second-hand book shops in the neighbourhood for Singer books. Now I have quite a large Singer collection of both novels and short stories - all of them works of art in their own right. This collection of twenty-four stories is varied - ghost stories, fables set in little Polish-Jewish villages and stories set in pre-World War II Warsaw and post-World War II New York. Although most of the stories have a distinctly Jewish flavour, many of the themes, including love, lust, politics, greed and family life are universal. Some of the tales end in twists, which can often leave you surprised or spooked, not that this is a bad thing, of course.
My favourite stories are as follows: "A Crown Of Feathers" is a phantasmagoric tale of a young woman losing and then trying to regain her faith.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Israel Drazin TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on November 18, 2014
Format: Paperback
Isaac Bashevis Singer is the 1978 Noble Prize winner for literature. He is a master short story and novel writer. His short stories usually have gripping surprising endings. His characters are unusual, but fascinating, and somehow we can relate to what is described, if not in ourselves then in others. Sex plays a key role in many of his tales as well as bizarre religious practices or unusual reactions to and changes in how the religion is practiced. Most notably is his inclusion of surrealism and mystic notions in his tales. And we wonder as we read them, should we simply accept what Singer says without question as a story, but nothing more than a story? Or should we ask: Did Singer himself believe in the weird acts he describes? Or should we look at what he says as symbols or metaphors?
“A Crown of Feathers,” one of the two-dozen tales in this book, is a good example. Akhsa’s parents died when she was quite young and she was raised by her grandparents, very observant and very wealthy Jews. When Akhsa was eighteen her grandfather sought to find her a husband. He was pleased with the men he selected, but his wife, Akhsa’s grandmother, saw flaws in each of them. Akhsa agreed with her grandmother. Her grandmother died and her grandfather insisted that she marry the next man he would chose. Her grandfather chose a poor leaned pious yeshiva student, Zemach, but Akhsa rejected him. He left and cursed her violently. Her grandfather died.
During the mourning period, she finds a New Testament and feels that what it says makes more sense to her than the Hebrew Bible. Her dead grandmother appears to her and tells her to go to the priest and do what he says. Her grandfather also appears and tries to persuade her not to listen to the ghost she thinks is her grandmother.
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Format: Paperback
A collection of 25 short stories, each containing a mystical element and full of Bashevis Singers unequalled telling of the struggle between the old world orthodox Judaism and its trust in the Messiah coming, and the new worldly Jews living in a new and ever more volatile world.
Yet still Bashevis Singer explores the age old questions; why are we here ? Is creation an accident; all chance with a strictly scientific base ? What is truth ? (As Bashevis Singer says; if it does exist it is as intricate and hidden as in a crown of feathers !)
The stand out story, for me, is 'Grandfather and Grandson' where an unworldly and god fearing old Jew, Reb Morecai Meir, takes in his grandson, a young socialist revolutionary who believes in political solutions-not divine-to bring justice to the people. It encapsulates all that Bashevis Singer is about. A wonderful story in a wonderful collection by a wonderful writer. Stories to read, absorb and enjoy and learn humanity from.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Bob Newman VINE VOICE on March 3, 2007
Format: Paperback
Polish Jewry under Russian rule, the Jews in post-1918 Poland, the exiled survivors of the Holocaust in New York---all these are times and people of the past. Nothing of them really survives. Yiddish is but a pale shadow of its former self. So even the words are like pink clouds of last week's sunset. How they struggled ! How they loved, fought, schemed and sacrificed--the writers, the revolutionaries, the holy men, the pretenders, the warped geniuses, the dispossessed. Unless we have a writer of the stature of Isaac Bashevis Singer, all this is gone forever. We are left with dusty tomes, the photos of Roman Vishniac, and some Holocaust museums with their tragic rooms telling of mass murder. But if I want to know what the world of my ancestors--your neighbors' ancestors--was like, you have to read Singer; this book or any other. Devils and nasty spirits haunt the pages, along with believers in occult rituals and spirit mediums. A woman under a curse loses everything and finally disappears herself. The ferment that shook Jewish life in Poland during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries lives here---new ideas of democracy, Communism, equality of the sexes, secular life shook traditional Judaism, still sunk in prayers, study of the Talmud, and the eternal wait for the Messiah. Sons full of new energy return to the village from America, full of plans, only to find that somnolence rules supreme. Tradition is happy. [But doomed.] In America, the surviving writers and would-be writers hang out in cafes and delicatessens, talking away their days over tea and rice pudding. It's a far cry from Hemingway ! Some lecture, write, publish--others only argue and go home to cramped apartments in decaying Manhattan buildings.Read more ›
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A Crown of Feathers
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