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Magician of Lublin Mass Market Paperback – May 12, 1980

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Mass Market Paperback, May 12, 1980
Unknown Binding
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--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Fawcett Crest Books (May 12, 1980)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0449240592
  • ISBN-13: 978-0449240595
  • Product Dimensions: 6.7 x 4.2 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,342,955 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


“Though The Magician of Lublin has major philosophical underpinnings, Singer excels at moving the story along like a compulsively readable thriller. Blessed with the gift of creating worlds, his narratives invariably feel not like they’ve been written but as if they are happening in front of our eyes. Part of this gift is Singer’s facility for vivid characters. Whether it be minor bystanders who appear for a moment or major players like the brazen blond pimp Herman, ‘a giant who knows himself invincible,’ Singer never fails to conjure up people who get up off the page and walk around. Being a modern can be a sometime thing, but great writing engages and endures.” Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times Book Review

“Singer, far from being gentle and grandfatherly, was as shockingly modern a writer as Dostoevsky. He is a chronicler of spiritual disintegration, exploring the devastating effects of appetite and passion—even of thought itself—on souls unprotected by faith . . . The dark power of The Magician of Lublin is nowhere clearer than in its concluding message—that, for a modern man, to return to God may require a decision as violent and frightening as any crime.”—Adam Kirsch, Tablet

“Singer’s minute particulars, at which he is a master, invariably are Eastern European Jewish. His eye for detail is manifest throughout The Magician of Lublin.” —Harold Bloom, The New York Review of Books

“[Singer] is a spellbinder as clever as Scheherazade; he arrests the reader at once, transports him to a far place and a far, improbable time and does not let him go until the end.” —Jean Stafford, The New Republic

“A peerless storyteller, Singer restores the sheer enchantment with story, with outcome, with what-happens-next that has been denied most readers since their adolescence.”—David Boroff, Saturday Review

“Singer is a genius. He has total command of his imagined world.” —Irving Howe, The New Republic

--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

From the Publisher

Like one of his mystical characters dancing between worlds of reality and fantasy, Isaac Bashevis Singer’s literary legacy – ten years after the Nobel Laureate passed away – is being reborn.

Jewish Contemporary Classics, Inc. has now published THE MAGICIAN OF LUBLIN, one of Bashevis Singer’s most famous novels, on as a six-cassette unabridged audiobook.

Veteran narrator and Broadway star Larry Keith reads this wonderfully crafted story of promiscuity and redemption, moving effortlessly among the voices of housewives, thieves and professors. The book is introduced by Bea Arthur, star of television’s “The Golden Girls.” --This text refers to the Audio Cassette edition.

Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

23 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Bob Newman VINE VOICE on June 12, 2004
Format: Mass Market Paperback
But can we know what God wants us to do ? Isn't it a case of Man sewing throughout his lifetime the clothes that fit him ? We ask a million questions, however the answers lie only within. You have to do as you see fit. Some say the discipline of orthodox religion points out the road; every bird, every snowflake, every acorn lying on the grass is proof of God's existence. Others deny the whole thing and swear God never existed. Singer's tale of a religiously-lapsed Jewish magician/acrobat is not so much about tricks or a series of interlocking events as about a man torn between Good and Evil. Though Yasha lives on the edge of Polish society and associates with the most dubious of characters, he has a conscience, he loves women and is kind to animals, but always manipulates them to his own ends. He is more and more plagued by self-doubt and indecision as he grows older, until he can no longer act. His life of flimflam grifting, adultery, and hocus-pocus unravels when he ventures to break the 8th commandment---Thou Shalt Not Steal. He himself knows that he has at last gone too far. His four women, his course of dubious activity, his pride in his ability---all then fall away. In the end, Yasha takes a drastic and unexpected measure in order to control his desires and his straying from the path of the righteous. He achieves the fame which eluded him for so many years as a magician. The struggle within him continues unabated. Yasha remains a thinker, a questioner, a wonderer, not a blind accepter of given wisdom.
THE MAGICIAN OF LUBLIN epitomizes, in the form of a novel, the basic elements of Jewish thinking. Or at least, it asks and tries to answer the most basic questions of that tradition. It is certainly an interesting novel, but it is also a masterpiece of Jewish philosophy.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By IRA Ross on April 12, 2005
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Like Siddhartha, Yasha has led a life of dissipation. In Yasha's case his transgressions consisted of womanizing, excessive alcohol consumption, keeping friends with shady characters, and, finally, burglary and attempted thievery. Suffering a serious injury, the suicide of one of his paramours, and possible imprisonment, Yasha relinquishes his burgeoning career as a magician and tight rope walker in favor of doing deep religious penance. Also, like Siddhartha, Yasha becomes an ascetic. Recognizing himself as a sinner who could easily slip back again to his former ways, Yasha shuts himself off from the world in a most unusual way. Not through any choice of his own, Yasha becomes, "a holy man" with "Jewish men and women (waiting) at (his) window for (his) blessing."

Isaac Bashevis Singer has written a thought-provoking novel of tremendous intensity in a style containing deceptively simple language. Singer's characters are full of human frailties and vulnerability. Yasha, in particular, is always questioning the morality of his intended acts and their possible consequences on others. This is especially so after he escapes into a synagogue (Yasha is a fallen away Jew) and achieves an epiphany of sorts. Yasha learns that he is not evil, after all, but simply human
and, in many ways worthy of love and admiration.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 26, 1998
Format: Audio Cassette
To those who might have dismissed Isaac B. Singer because he is perceived to be a "Jewish" writer writing about "Jewish themes", I ask them to please read this book. The theme of the novel encompasses all aspects of human behavior and develops the omnipresent theme of ambivalence of action in making a decision. The book can be read in no more than two days, so put it to the top of your summer reading list.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Midwest Book Review on January 23, 2001
Format: Audio Cassette
Isaac Bashevis Singer (1904-1991) is one of the true literary giants of twentieth century literature. In this eight cassette, 9 hour, unabridged audiobook edition we are treated to one of his best stories, aptly narrated by Larry Keith. The Magician Of Lublin is a timeless tale of human emotions, questions, and quandaries as young Yasha's reckless courage takes him to the very edge of catastrophe. Singer had an unrivaled gift for creating very real, believable characters caught up in the vicissitudes of life and with whom we can all readily identify. The Magician Of Lublin is a "must" for the legions of Singer fans and would admirable serve to introduce a whole new generation to this master storyteller and his art.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By In Xanadu on June 13, 2005
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This story is similar to "Enemies, A Love Story" in that it features a lead character with too many lovers, and it features some comical moments amid some very dramatic ones.

No wonder so much of Singer's work has been translated from Yiddish. You don't have to be of the Jewish faith to identify with the moral struggles of his characters. Even an athiest could relate to the dilemmas faced by Yasha as he feebly tries to do right by all the women in his life, and not surprisingly often does horribly wrong.

Singer won my heart in the first chapter, writing lovingly about doting wife Esther. In a lesser writer's hand, she would seem pathetic. But she comes off as an admirable individual with a sense of pride in her faithfulness. In fact, all the characters are so multidimensional, together they seem to be every facet of a woman, which is probably what Yasha really desires.

Like all great novels, this one stayed with me for several days, but to say why would be revealing to much. Even after 45 years, it still resonates. This book asks hard questions for which there are no easy answers, and wraps them in a totally compelling tale.
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