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ENEMIES, A LOVE STORY by Isaac Bashevis Singer


by Isaac Bashevis Singer

Pub Date: June 26th, 1972
ISBN: 0374515220
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

It is a measure of Singer's strength that he is able to utilize what is essentially a familiar farcical situation -- a man married to three wives -- to scour the empty room of one human soul pursued by the echoes of real and terrible enemies. Herman Broder, now living in Brooklyn with his Polish peasant wife, Yadwiga, whom he married in gratitude (she hid him from the Nazis), has a mistress, Masha, also a refugee. Then the wife Tamara, whom he believed had died with their children, miraculously returns. "When a man hides in an attic for years, he ceases to be a part of society. . . . I'm still hiding in an attic." And among unreal shadows Herman sees survival in terms of deceit by both men and God ("God? Whose God?") as he is drawn to each woman again and again, goaded by his own "demon adversary." He marries Masha, allows Tamara to organize his life, and is about to have a child by Yadwiga. Restless lies eventually trap him -- Masha commits suicide, the good Tamara undertakes the care of Yadwiga and the child, and Herman, without peace and without hope, announces "I will leave everybody." This is not among Singer's most successful works -- the women seen through Broder's feverish desolation are unfinished; but forced into a bizarre domestic triangle they lose their symbolic intensity. However, as a portrait of a holocaust victim dead to life, this is difficult to shrug off or forget. Enemies appeared in 1966 in The Jewish Daily Forward.