Short Stories, Irish literature, Classics, Modern Fiction, Contemporary Literary Fiction, The Japanese Novel, Post Colonial Asian Fiction, The Legacy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and quality Historical Novels are Among my Interests

Friday, December 25, 2015

"In the Dead Town" by Lamed Shapiro (1910, translated by David G. Rosties)

Lamed Shaprio (born 1878 in the Ukraine, died 1948 in Los Angeles) is one of the highest regarded writers of Yoddish language short stories. His most famous stories are about the terrible pograms which took place in the Ukraine (Clarice Lispector's family left the Ukraine for Brazil after her mother was repeatedly raped in a program) and about Yiddish life in New York City.  I have previously posted on several of his wonderful stories.

"In the Land of the Dead" is set in a Jewish cemetery.  I'm could not tell where one might geolocate it but it is on the bank of a large River which  freezes over in the winter.  It is a strange, to me, difficult to fully follow on a first reading story centering on an elderly widower and a young girl for whom he draws on Eastern European Jewish traditions about death.  The story beautifully evokes the feel of the cemetery.  The wife of the old man is buried under a pear tree,  as he ages he visits her more often.  There is a terrible memory evoked in a dream like sequence toward the close of the story in which we feel the terror and violence of a pogram.  

The Cross and Other Jewish Stories is a wonderful treasure, helping us preserve a great culture.  The introduction is very well done. 

Mel u

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