Social Concerns / Themes

(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

Adevout Jew wandering among Gentile cultures in an unclean world; superstitious, unsophisticated village folk who fear demons and spirits; characters struggling to survive clashes in political, religious and economic systems — none of these situations is new in the fictional world of Isaac Bashevis Singer. Nor is Singer's preference for the role of storyteller rather than that of a thinker with a clearly fixed world view. In The King of the Fields Singer recounts a parable of a devout Jew at the mercy of a tumultuous and often vicious Gentile world. While some might view the novel as a confirmation that Singer's work is basically pessimistic about human life and society, others see in it a fundamentally optimistic tale because the isolated Jew, Ben Dosa, eventually settles in a community of devout Jews, while the Gentile characters perpetuate a cycle of wanton, destructive domination.

(The entire section is 143 words.)