Other Literary Forms

(Literary Essentials: Short Fiction Masterpieces)

As important as his collection of stories Soul of Wood, and Other Stories, which deals with the atrocities associated with Nazi persecution during World War II, is Jakov Lind’s novel Landschaft in beton (1963; Landscape in Concrete, 1966) about the terrible effects of German nationalism in the 1930’s and 1940’s. Lind is also the author of several plays, a book of nonfiction entitled The Trip to Jerusalem (1973), and several autobiographical works.

Jakov Lind Achievements

(Literary Essentials: Short Fiction Masterpieces)

Jakov Lind was highly praised by American critics in 1964 on the publication of his collection of short stories Soul of Wood, and Other Stories. Noted critic Maxwell Geismar called him the most noted short-story writer to appear in the last two decades, saying the long title novella was utterly unlike any story he had ever read. Other reviewers compared Lind to Nikolai Gogol, Franz Kafka, Günter Grass, and Sholom Aleichem. However, Lind’s subsequent books have not been received with as much acclaim as was Soul of Wood, and Other Stories, either in Germany or in America.

Jakov Lind Bibliography

(Literary Essentials: Short Fiction Masterpieces)

Geismar, Maxwell. “A Universe of Utter Evil.” The New York Times Book Review, January 24, 1965, 4, 34. Calling Lind the most notable short-story writer to appear since World War II, Geismar says that “Soul of Wood,” the title story of Lind’s best-known collection, is so complex that it is hard to convey its quality. Calls Lind a Viennese blend of Charles Addams and Roald Dahl, but more serious and more talented.

Karpowitz, Stephen. “Conscience and Cannibals: An Essay on Two Exemplary Tales—‘Soul of Wood’ and ‘The Pawnbroker.’” Psychoanalytic Review 64 (1977): 41-62. Argues that Anton Barth in “Soul of Wood” is the development of a metaphor of a totem Jew rescued from oblivion, a symbol of the modern cannibal’s victim. Says he is an instrument used to create the illusions people need to make their brutal motives palatable to the world.

Klein, Roger. “Punching Away at Our Stomachs.” The New York Herald Tribune Book Week, February 21, 1965, 4-12. Argues that what characterizes “Soul of Wood” is its total dependance on grotesque and macabre comedy. Claims that Lind’s stories have no compassion and thus become a series of freak shows with no moral impact. Says they bring the reader no closer to the truth of the Holocaust.

“A Monstrous Complicity.” Time 85 (March 19, 1965): 116, 118. This anonymous review of Soul of Wood, and Other Stories argues that the guilt suggested by Lind’s stories is not merely German, but the result of a monstrous complicity produced by the sleep of reason in the twentieth century.

Rosenfeld, Stella P. “Crossings: The Discovery of Two Islands.” World Literature in Review 66 (Summer, 1992): 523. A review of the third volume of Lind’s autobiography, which deals with his life after moving to London in 1950. Discusses Lind’s perception of self as a permanent alien, driven from his native Austria and robbed of his language. Argues that the flaws of the memoir are outweighed by its merits as a document of alienation.

Rosenfeld, Stella P. “Jakov Lind: Writer at the Crossroads.” Modern Austrian Literature 14 (1971): 42-47. Discusses the reaction of American reviewers to Soul of Wood, and Other Stories in 1964, Lind’s relationship to Vienna, and the autobiographical elements in “Soul of Wood.” Claims that the central figure in the story is symbolic of Lind’s own transformation in order to survive. Discusses Lind’s place in modern European literature.