The Death of Methuselah, and Other Stories (Magill's Literary Annual 1989)
This volume of short stories, the tenth since Gimpel the Fool and Other Stories (1957), explores what Isaac Bashevis Singer calls in an author’s note “modern man and his disappointment with his own culture.” The stories are permeated with an irony that results from the clash between mystical explanations of life and rational ones. Ancient and modern views are juxtaposed. Many of the characters are wanderers, sojourners of some sort; many are advanced in age. A holy man, a recluse, an artist, criminals, Holocaust survivors, faithless husbands and wives, perverts, cynics, prodigies, businessmen, the poor, the simpleminded, demons, the dead, the legendary, all are witnesses to an experience of life at odds with itself. Sinners tell stories in which they complain of other sinners; convicts tell tales of bigamy and murder; a philanderer collects anecdotes of faithless women. Singer himself seems to be present in the persona of a Yiddish writer to whom many of these stories are told. The Death of Methuselah and Other Stories is an extraordinary collection, both in terms of its odd and mystifying subject matter and, especially, in terms of Singer’s gifts. A myth unmasked by Singer, for some strange reason, remains as alive as ever.
The best introduction to the fiction of Isaac Bashevis Singer is his volume of memoirs, Mayn...
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Bibliography (Magill's Literary Annual 1989)
Booklist. LXXXIV, February 1, 1988, p. 889.
Chicago Tribune. April 10, 1988, XIV, p. 5.
Kirkus Reviews. LVI, March 1, 1988, p. 320.
Los Angeles Times Book Review. May 1, 1988, p. 1.
The New Leader. LXXI, June 27, 1988, p. 20.
The New York Times Book Review. XCIII, April 17, 1988, p. 3.
Publishers Weekly. CCXXXIII, March 4, 1988, p. 98.
Time. CXXXI, May 2, 1988, p. 84.
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