In My Father's Court Critical Context - Essay

Isaac Bashevis Singer

Critical Context

(Literary Essentials: Nonfiction Masterpieces)

As an autobiographical memoir, In My Father’s Court paints the familiar portrait of the physical and intellectual development of a sensitive and observant youth. Because Singer’s novels and stories are frequently thinly veiled treatments of identical subject matter, In My Father’s Court may be read as a valuable source of the “real” facts behind the fictions. Asa Heshel Bannet’s fascination with Spinoza in Die Familie Moskat (1950; The Family Moskat, 1950) and Aaron Greidinger’s Krochmalna Street address in Neshome Ekspeditsyes (1974; Shosha, 1978) are but two among the many examples of Singer’s protagonists taking on the attributes of their creator.

Yet without denying its importance as a record of Singer’s formative years and thus of the people, the places, and the ideas that shape his fiction, In My Father’s Court is chiefly valuable—at least for Singer himself—as a work of remembrance. In the wake of Adolf Hitler’s destruction of European Jewry, those who lived through the Holocaust dedicated themselves to what they considered a sacred duty: to preserve the history of their people. For concentration camp survivors such as Elie Wiesel and Primo Levi, this meant creating a permanent record of the atrocities they had witnessed. For Singer, who emigrated to the United States well before the German invasion of Poland, it meant reanimating the lost world of pre-1939...

(The entire section is 427 words.)