THE MAGICIAN OF LUBLIN by Isaac Bashevis Singer

THE MAGICIAN OF LUBLIN

A Novel
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KIRKUS REVIEW

The position of Yasha Mazur in nineteenth century Poland was doubly anomalous: as a prestidigitator, hypnotist, and tight rope performer, par excellence, he mingled with and was acclaimed by every level of society and at the same time consigned to the statusless ranks of the bohemian; as a half-Jew he suffered all the restrictions placed on non-Gentiles in that society without enjoying the spiritual security the ghetto provided observant Jews. Brilliant and magnetic, Yasha finds solace in the women who love him--his wife, his partner, a prostitute, and, finally, a cultured Christian widow. And then his solace turns into his purgatory as he allows his love for the widow to develop into a serious relationship which demands that he upset the balance of his life, abandon his other obligations, and go with her. Yasha's complex infidelities, the inevitable by-product of his search for inner coherence, lead to a suicide. Overpowered with guilt, Yasha abandons the art at which he excels, returns to his wife and the Jewish community, and walled up in an improvised cell, lives the repentant life of the hermit, a spiritual source of strength for his neighbors, who, still convinced of his magic properties, seek council from him. This well written novel represents a departure from the more familiar literature of Eastern European Jewry in that Yasha spans two societies, wrestling with the angels of both. He is a ghetto Jew, strongly influenced by the standards of that society, and yet he is a modern man, attached to order, form, and tradition by only the most casual links. Almost a parable, Yasha of Lublin will have intense sympathizers, primarily among Jewish readers.
Pub Date: May 1st, 1960
ISBN: 0374532540
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: Noonday
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1st, 1960




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