Enemies: A Love Story Summary (Isaac Bashevis Singer)

Isaac Bashevis Singer


(Masterpieces of World Literature, Critical Edition)

With Enemies: A Love Story, Singer entered a new phase in his literary career. This was the first of his novels to use the United States as its setting and also the first in which almost all of the characters were Holocaust survivors. Of all his novels, Enemies is probably the most complex, at least where tone is concerned. On one hand, his survivors are so haunted by their memories of the death camps, so tormented by guilt because they survived, and so tortured by their loss of faith, that they seem more dead than alive. This is the stuff of tragedy.

At the same time, Enemies has all the elements of a classical farce. The characters engage in self-dramatization and verbal exaggeration. They shout and throw things. Moreover, the central character, Herman Broder, is a trickster like the scheming servants in the witty plays of the English Restoration period. Because Broder has very little control over his life, he achieves his goals through trickery. He invents elaborate falsehoods in order to conceal his actions from his employer, his girl friend, his mistress, and his wife, even from casual acquaintances. As his affairs become more and more tangled and his lies more and more complex, the pace of the novel becomes increasingly hectic until the inevitable happens: Broder’s victims meet, compare notes, confront him, and combine against him.

The most accurate classification of Enemies would be as a...

(The entire section is 490 words.)