Ronald Harwood Haskel Frankel - Essay

Haskel Frankel

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

[The Guilt Merchants is set in El Pueblo], a South American town of no size or importance…. But if El Pueblo is uninteresting, some of its citizenry are most interesting, particularly Carlos Anido. He is a Jewish survivor of Weisering, one of the worst of the Nazi concentration camps. Anido seems almost a Job-like figure. His present is not much happier than his past….

The mystery about Anido is the locked room he rents near the center of town, which no one else has ever been inside, but from which voices have been heard speaking German.

To El Pueblo comes Sidnitz, an Israeli agent who for sixteen years has been searching for Wilhelm Brullach, the murderous commandant of Weisering, though he does not know what the man looks like or even if he is still alive. The action of this novel … begins with the arrival of Sidnitz. The Guilt Merchants moves in swiftly on the reader like some dark storm cloud heavy with the threat of violence. Unfortunately, the mood does not sustain or build. Extraneous characters creep in to drain away power. What purpose is served by Anna, Cordonez's wife? That she is unfaithful to her husband with Sidnitz serves no purpose in the novel other than to lengthen it and to inject a sexual scene. And why is she a Jewish convert when her husband is not anxious to have people in town know of his Jewishness?…

But what hurts The Guilt Merchants most is its...

(The entire section is 427 words.)