THE CASE AGAINST THE WIND: And Other Stories by I. L. Peretz


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I. L. Peretz represents one of the more mournful strains in Yiddish literature and in the collection at hand his unbending piety tends to overwhelm his acerbic wit and opulent mysticism. Again and again a protagonist passes up treausre and good fortune, or risks death, for the sake of keeping some religious law. Then there's Basia Gittel whose sad fate teaches that a good Jewish woman should not have extra clothes hanging in her closet because they tempt ""evil spirits (to) take them out and dance in them"". . . and Tovye's wife who cheerfully gives to the poor all the gold showered on Tovye during his seven years of plenty. . . and poverty-stricken Mendel who turns his children's hunger pangs to joy by telling them there is no food because of the celebration of a special fast day. . . . Hautzig, herself born in Poland before World War II, recalls the real affection she felt as a child for her countryman's humble characters. Sadly, her choice of stories and her adapted (and often shortened) versions don't give much evidence that her appreciation of Peretz's complex moral sensibility has deepened over the years. Only rarely here--most notably in ""Bontche the Silent""--is there a flash of Peretz's rebellion against the stringencies of the law and his cynicism in the face of the sufferings of the meek. Lovers of Yiddish literature may be grateful to have a Peretz translation for young readers, but the fiery questioner of the adult Selected Stories (Schocken, 1974) is almost unrecognizable here.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1975
Page count: 160pp
Publisher: Macmillan