Leslie Epstein Robert Alter - Essay

Robert Alter

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

Making novels out of the holocaust has proved to be a hopelessly self-contradictory enterprise for most writers. The conventional novel, with its formal coherence of beginning, middle and end, betrays this subject, which by its nature destroys coherence in our understanding of history, theology, moral choice and human character. Leslie Epstein's quietly controlled, eerily lucid novel ["King of the Jews"]…. is remarkable for choosing an aspect of the subject and developing a special narrative mode that overcome the intrinsic difficulty of coping imaginatively with genocide….

Mr. Epstein intelligently focuses his narrative not on the obscene mechanisms of mass murder itself, but on the morally...

(The entire section is 674 words.)