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Comment: A well-cared-for item that has seen limited use but remains in great condition. The item is complete, unmarked, and undamaged, but may show some limited signs of wear. Item works perfectly. Pages and dust cover are intact and not marred by notes or highlighting. The spine is undamaged.
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Until the Dawn's Light: A Novel Hardcover – October 11, 2011

3.7 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Schocken; First Edition edition (October 11, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0805241795
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805241792
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,382,642 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is my first novel by Aharon Appelfeld. I was transfixed by it, by its sensibility, its brilliance, its sheer humanity. In a small town called, ironically Heimland (homeland) in Austria around the turn of the 20th century, most of the Jews have converted to Christianity. In fact, the synagogue has been closed for lack of interest. An intellectually talented high school student, Blanca, who is Jewish, is attracted to a Christian peasant she is tutoring in math. Blanca converts to Christianity to marry him - and it turns out to be a nightmarish marriage, in which she is repeatedly beaten and treated as a maidservant. Her only comfort is her small son, Otto. Her scenes with 4 year old Otto are among the most moving in the book. Actually, the book is written in flashback form, as Blanca and Otto are fleeing Austria to the north. Where is the north? asks Otto. "Above," she answers truthfully, an early clue to the denouement. Blanca keeps writing her diary, the events that led to the present moment where she is seeking refuge. The author writes simply and truthfully. The translation is precise and exact, true to the spare style of the original Hebrew; the writing is beautiful. From the first page, from Blanca's protectiveness toward her 4 year old child, her determination to keep the truth from him without lying, you know Blanca, like her name, is pure. Her only hope is to save her son, Otto, from becoming like his thuggish father, who is (also symbolically) named Adolf. The discernment of the author in understanding how a dictator can be raised from a dictatorial, abusive father and a timid, abused but kind mother makes me think of Hitler's family background. This must be intentional on the author's part.

I have never read so compelling, and so very Jewish, a book. I am still emotionally reeling from its effect. I recommend this book to those who do not mind having their verities questioned and their premises challenged. It is a tragic masterpiece.
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Format: Hardcover
This is the fourth Aharon Appelfeld novel that I read this week. The time is just before and just after 1900, long before Adolf Hitler gained power in Germany and Austria, but the climate that will arise under his regime is percolating at that time.
Blanca who is in her mid-twenties and her son Otto who is four travel to northern Austria without Blanca’s husband. The book does not reveal why she took the trip until near the end. Her name ironically and tragically probably signifies “a nobody.” The book’s title “Until the Dawn’s Light” may imply that the evil will continue until after death, when a new dawn’s light shines. She decides to write her life story.
She had been a superior student in high school, even in mathematics and Latin. Her teachers, Klein and Weiss, both Jews by birth who had converted to Christianity but did not change their names, wanted her to continue her studies for with her grads she would secure a scholarship in a prestigious university. But during her high school years Blanca became fascinated by a tall, handsome, well-liked, strong Christian boy who was failing in mathematics and Latin. Blanca tried to tutor him but the boy, Adolf, was incapable of learning. He blamed it on the two teachers who he called the Jews, even though they had converted to Christianity, and he swore revenge.
Blanca and Adolf marry after Blanca converts to Christianity. Her mother and father are not opposed, for they are non-religious secularized Jews. Blanca’s father had wanted to convert as a youngster, but his mother made him promise not to do so. He still feels that he should have converted for his friends who did so had good jobs and were successful, but he is not. Blanca’s mother was not stable and spent time in a sanitarium.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I don't know if the writing style was due to the translation or not, but I found it an unpleasant reading pace. The storyline was slow and sometimes difficult to follow. This was a choice of a book club to which I belong or I might not have bothered to finish the book and would have missed the one plot twist.
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Format: Hardcover
I am a great fan of Appelfeld for the most part, but this new book is disappointing. The plot is too contrived, the actions less than believable, and the relationships ring false. Ostensibly, it follows a familiar trajectory of Appelfeld: the folly of assimilated (and even converted) Jews in Germany (or in Central Europe more generally) and their ultimate downfall. But please -- a brilliant talented girl ends up by marrying a Gentile drunken lout, who had been expelled from high school for academic failure, without any really convincing reason. Cowed into total submission (to the extent of having to abandon her hapless father), beaten constantly, except for the intervention of a kindly (converted) doctor, who rescues her and her child (both unborn and while an infant), she ends up as a thief, an axe murderer (why couldn't she just have left the brute while he was in his drunken stupor), and beyond that, in her flight across Central Europe, why in heavens name does she keep setting fires to churches? She doesn't seem to have descended into madness, so what's the point? Is it because she converted? Look for another work by Appelfeld to gauge his genius for story telling.
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