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For Every Sin (Appelfeld, Aharon) Paperback – April 29, 1996


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Product Details

  • Series: Appelfeld, Aharon
  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Grove Press; 1st Pbk. Ed edition (April 29, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802134467
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802134462
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,677,168 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

As in Appelfeld's earlier novels of alienation set during and after the Holocaust ( Badenheim 1939 ; To the Land of the Cattails ), this narrative portrays a man cruelly deprived of will and emotional clarity. Theo, plodding home across Europe after four years in the death camps, is stunned and lifeless, a condition reflected in Appelfeld's deliberately unadorned prose. Remote memories propel Theo toward Baden-bei-Wein--his mother, the chapels they once visited, the cafes and art galleries--and send him scuttling past clusters of refugees who beseech him to stop. He notices neither cold nor hunger, but, yearning for coffee and cigarettes, finally pauses when they are offered and finds himself not many miles from where he began. Like his thoughts, his feet have traveled in circles, pursued by visions he cannot escape. Eventually he understands that he must join those other refugees who "stretch out their hands . . . to the miserable brethren scattered on the deserted roads." At the end of this slim narrative, Theo has tentatively rejoined the company of the survivors, who "can't bring the dead back to life . . . but can at least say 'we're together.' "
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Though for survivors of the Holocaust the desire to forget must be strong, most have come to recognize the need never to forget and to conduct their lives accordingly. This conflict between desire and need is the focus of Appelfeld's latest work. Theo Braun, a young survivor of the camps, is determined to leave his experience behind, to isolate himself from his fellow refugees and return on foot to his home near Vienna. Whatever his intentions, he finds himself drawn, almost mothlike, back to the campfires, coffee, and companionship of other survivors. As he wrestles with his conflicting feelings, he slowly comes to realize that returning "home" is impossible and that as a survivor he is under an obligation to help his "miserable brethren," to "do as much good as possible." Succinct and affecting; essential for collections of serious fiction.
- David W. Henderson, Eckerd Coll. Lib., St. Petersburg, Fla.
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By taking a rest HALL OF FAME on March 2, 2001
Format: Paperback
It may appear simplistic/extreme to say only a survivor of Genocide can write with credibility on the topic. A great Novelist can take a reader anywhere; an excellent Historian can document every detail of an event. I have read books by the latter two and they do communicate the horror of Genocide, however when a person with the talent of a great writer who also is a survivor writes on the topic, there is a difference, a great difference. Fortunately for the Historical Record Mr. Aharon Appelfeld is just such a man, and when he tells a tale he communicates feelings that are more disturbing, and that resonate longer than just a recital of facts no matter how shocking.
With his book, "For Every Sin", he again uses the form of a novel to share experiences of a survivor making his way home after the War. Very little of the emotion that his character Theo feels is what you would expect, and the same holds true for many other players in the book. Many of the emotions and the plans that people make in the book are a direct result of their wartime experiences, and they rarely are what a reader would expect. And yet every action makes sense after Mr. Appelfeld tells the story.
Some Jews converted to Christianity before the war in the hope they would not then be found by the Nazis. The step was taken to preserve life. The Author deals with the following paradox, a man survives the camp, the war, the attempt to destroy the people he is a part of. If a person were to lose all faith it would not be hard to understand, but Theo is returning home so that he may convert to Christianity after he has survived. The reactions of those other survivors he meets cover the range of reactions from understanding, to violence regarding his decision.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Shalom Freedman HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWER on January 11, 2007
Format: Paperback
This is not one of my favorite Appelfeld books. But it nonetheless is a novel of quality which gives insights into the very special world of survivors of the Shoah. In this work the hero, a young man named Theo attempts to make his way home to Bad-a -Wein(Vienna) where he was born. On the way he meets with various groups of survivors who he alternatively is drawn to and repelled by. In one such meeting he tells a survivor named Paul that he is going home in order to convert to Christianity. When Paul grabs his coat Theo pushes him, and unintentionally leads to his death. After this he continues in his desperate bid to return home, a home which he will come to understand no longer exists.

Once again the theme of survivor's problematic relation to their own Jewishness is central to an Appelfeld work. Once again the struggle to survive in hostile circumstances comes to play. In this work the protagonist is strongly attached to the memory of his mother, a beautiful woman who once thought to convert to Christianity. In the course of returning home however Theo encountering again and again groups of refugees understands that he himself has changed. The pure German his mother taught him is no longer his. Rather the Yiddish inflected language he learned in the camps remains with him. He through the wanderings arrives at last at a group or refugees one of whom tells him that they must give love and help to each other.

He understands he cannot go back home to the home which no longer exists, but rather as a survivor must go on with other survivors, however slowly, to wherever their Fate leads them.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Eric Maroney on June 8, 2012
Format: Paperback
Aharon Appelfeld's For Every Sin follows the fruitless wandering of a camp survivor immediately following the war. The novel is filled with dreary landscapes and details, and exhausted survivors of the camps who have little motivation to move on. They drink coffee, eat food, and are shocked and numbed by their experiences.

The young protagonist of this novel is set on going back to his hometown, even though, in more sober moments, he realizes that his entire family is dead. One idea keeps him going: the notion that he will convert to Christianity, which was dear to his mother's heart, although she remained a Jew.

The theme of this novel is one of the elements that often makes some Jewish critics angry at Appelfeld's books. The main character is obsessed with being alone (away from refugees, which means away from Jews) and he sees in Christianity the perfect vehicle for this quest conversion. Then he can be alone, in a religion that fosters solitude. Here, critics complain, is a self-hating Jew.

But what critics fall to see is the delusion that Appelfeld is well aware of, and capitalizes in the narrative. There is no way out of being Jewish, just as there is no way out of being a former victim of the Holocaust. Ultimately, art can help; the ability to write, to explore a the world of words and their possible solutions, holds the key.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Bookski on August 15, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I always feel somewhat unsettled when I am reading Appelfeld. I believe that is a good thing; an indication that I have not become jaded to the sins of humanity. Theo's story is unique to himself as an individual, corporate to survivors of the Holocaust, and universal to all who have suffered and lost their innocence. Another great novel by Appelfeld.
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