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Spinoza of Market Street and Other Stories Paperback – February 1, 1979
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“The appearance of this book by Singer is an unusual literary event. I have found these stories very satisfying as entertainment and provocatively deep in their implications.” ―Milton Hindus, The New York Times
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.
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1)"The Spinoza of Market Street" 2)"The Black Wedding" 3)"A Tale of Two Liars" 4)"The Shadow of a Crib" 5)"Shiddah and Kuziba" 6)"Caricature" 7)"The Beggar Said So" 8)"The Man Who Came Back" 9)"A Piece of Advice" 10)"In the Poorhouse" 11)"The Destruction of Kreshev"
With the exception of "Shiddah and Kuziba", all these stories are set in the same place: the Poland of centuries past, when large Jewish communities lived in the towns near the border with Russia (sometimes Russia itself controlled Poland). These stories involve love, treason, lies, evil, philosophy, lust, sex and much more. Though some stories are not very interesting, I wasn't disappointed by any of them. I will write a little about those I liked the most. "A Tale of Two Liars" has a plot whose simplicity reminds me of the best short narrations by J.L. Borges. Nothing is left at the end for the reader to wonder about: though its written in I.B.Singer's usual style (full of sometimes unneccesary, "by-the-way", details), the plot is so well made and (what else should I say?) complete, that it is as if it were a sphere that you grasp in its entierty with just one hand. "Shadow" is philosophical, with a lot of misanthropic and misogynous ramblings. Its ending, with the ghosts of the two main character coming back to haunt the town, has the same eerie tone as that of Joyce's "The Dead". "Caricature" stands up to its title: an old writer whose self-doubt makes him unable to clear his stinking and dusty room of useless outdated 'rubbish' (old magazines and letters that he has not bothered to open or read) or publish his long-awaited manuscript pokes fun at everything, including his wife, his own life and his obscure supporters. "The Destruction of Kreshev" reminds me of García Marquez's "One Hundred Years of Solitude". It is simply a masterpiece that has to be read, a mix of science-fiction, horror and jewish folklore, a tale of how religious, supposedly upright intellectuals can end corrupting themselves by "too much thinking" and instronspection. "The Man Who Came Back", about a man who is revived only to be possesed by an evil spirit, and "A Piece of Advice", a kind of fable about pessimist, angry people acting as if they were the opposite of that, are also worth reading. "Kreshev" and "Spinoza" are the only stories that appear in "The Collecteded Stories of Isaac Bashevis Singer".
Read and enjoy.
Not only are there stories of golem, dybbuks, and demons, but even more earthy people as Dr. Fischelson who marries a woman known as Black Dobbe. There is a devil manipulating two perpetual liars, the flamboyant Glicka Genedel, and Reb Yomtom. There is a story of divine providence, where a beggar directs and aspiring chimney sweep, then down the road is paid back. These stories are sure to delight and surprise.
There are stories here that will drive chills down your spine and leave you thinking about them for months.
I can't believe there are only 3 reviews here of this masterpiece. Get it!
I read this book some years ago with some caution, because I have known IBS as a novelist and somehow I had the expectation that the short stories might disappoint me. I was wrong, the prose is unique and the wisdom is there as everything the maestro writes. I feel compelled to learn yiddish right away.