Last Updated on July 29, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 331
Austrian writer Franz Kafka's novel The Trial, first published in 1925, set the standard for novels about naive protagonists sucked into a complex, nightmarish legal system. Kafka's Joseph K. is so confused about of what he is supposed to be guilty that the term "Kafkaesque" has come to represent impersonal, irrational bureaucracy.
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Malamud has described The Fixer as a folk tale. Many of his shorter works fit this description. They have been collected in The Stories of Bernard Malamud, published by Farrar Straus Giroux in 1983.
Isaac Bashevis Singer was a Polish-born Yiddish writer who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1982. Most of his stories take place in Jewish communities in rural Europe, and, like The Fixer, most of Singer's stories were written in a folktale style. Singer's first published novel, Satan in Goray (1935), deals with seventeenth-century pogroms in which Jews in Poland were brutally massacred by Cossacks.
The case of Alfred Dreyfus, a Jewish army officer who was unjustly imprisoned for treason in France from 1894 to 1899, is mentioned in The Fixer. Of all that has been written about the case, which has come to be known as "The Dreyfus Affair," it is "J'Accuse," an 1898 letter about the case written by novelist Emile Zola, that has stood the test of time as a great work of literature.
Bernard Malamud's friend Philip Roth is said to have patterned the character E. I. Lonoff, protagonist of his novel The Ghost Writer, on Malamud.
Mendel Beilis, the man who was the model for Yakov Bok in this book, published an autobiography of his ordeal in 1926. Originally published as The Story of My Sufferings, it is currently available under the title Scapegoat on Trial.
Another author, Sholom Aleichem, also wrote a novel based on the Mendel Beilis case, The Bloody Hoax, published by the University of Indiana press in 1991.
Throughout The Fixer, the protagonist refers to his readings of the Dutch philosopher Baruch Spinoza. Spinoza's best-known work, his Ethics, is available in paperback from Everyman Press.