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Gimpel the Fool: Stories Paperback – October 1, 1988


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux; Reissue edition (October 1, 1988)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0374500525
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374500528
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.5 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,898,197 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"When I first read Gimpel the Fool . . . I felt not only that I was reading an extraordinarily beautiful and witty story, but that I was moving through as many historical levels as an archeologist at work . . . It is the integrity of the human imagination that Singer conveys so beautifully."--Alfred Kazin, The New Leader

Language Notes

Text: English, Yiddish (translation)

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Shalom Freedman HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWER on February 1, 2005
Format: Hardcover
This book of four stories contains two that I consider among the best Singer ever wrote, and among the best of all time, 'Gimpel the Fool' and ' The Spinoza of Market Street'. Gimpel is the eternal innocent, the good person who life and its cruelty continually mock and humiliate without ever managing to destroy his goodness and faith. He is the 'fool' who in his goodness and faith is holier than us all. A Jewish Quixote but one without heroic pretensions one instead filled with kindness and love even when he is being laughed at and made a fool of.

'The Spinoza of Market Street' is the story of an impossible love. It is the story of redemption and rebirth of body and soul through human kindness and caring. It is the story of an old philosopher lost in his dreams of Spinoza who is nursed back into life as man by a caring lonely unattractive woman. It is story of hope and of the redemption of the human soul.

How beautiful and deep these two great stories, how they give food and hope for body and soul.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By kay on April 28, 2000
Format: Audio Cassette
I enjoyed reading Gimpel the Fool. it made it possible relate to some of the jewish traditions as well as human nature that still is transpiring today. honesty versus dishonesty. isaac bshevis singer is a great writer. plain language and easy to interpret makes it more inspiring to continue to read his stories without putting it aside for later reading. well done indeed.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 24, 1999
Format: Paperback
Gimpel the Fool is a really well written book that is fun to read. It is an important source of information about Jewish history. But don't get me wrong, it's funny and easy to understand. The book focuses on the lives of simple Jews and their struggles and joys. My two favotite stories are "Gimpel the Fool" and "Fire."
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By IamNateDavis on January 5, 2011
Format: Paperback
I bought this book because I'm trying to read more literary Nobel prizewinners, since most of them are from outside the United States, and even in translation, the perspectives of writers such as Coetzee, Marquez, et al have been unique and mind-broadening. But with this collection by Singer, I was left feeling at a bit of a loss. Set in pre-industrial rural Eastern Europe, the twelve short stories reminded me of much earlier fiction like the Canterbury Tales and Don Quixote. Those classics are universally acclaimed, and yet I didn't enjoy them much either, for similar reasons: they're largely plot-or-event-driven, narrated in the distant 3rd person, with little character development or introspection.

I would recommend these stories more as a historical portrait of Jewish life and culture in a bygone age, rather than on their stylistic merits or ability to prompt self-reflection. What I couldn't help noticing was that unlike with most books I read, I did not feel compelled to write down a single quotation. Now no doubt some of the fault is mine as a reader; perhaps I am too much a product of my time. But to answer the question left in my mind about Singer's greatness, and discover the reason for his award, I think I will have to read some of his other work.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Shalom Freedman HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWER on June 19, 2007
Format: Paperback
This book contains Saul Bellow's translation of 'Gimpel the Fool'. This is the translation and the story which made Singer famous in America. It is a masterwork.
Singer is for me the greatest of all storywriters. I feel a special love for the Jewish world of characters he so wonderfully creates. The title- story 'Gimpel' is the story of a baker's assistant, an innocent slow- minded person of faith who though he is endlessly used and exploited by others continues to have trust and faith. He is deceived into marriage, and deceived repeatedly by his wife, knocked on the head everywhere, and yet his innocence, his trust do not abandon him. His holy love has a beauty about it which deeply moves to sympathy , to laughter and to tears.
Reading this story will I believe make most readers feel more deeply human , and make them sense more strongly the paradoxical beauty and greatness of life.
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