THE BITTER AND THE SWEET by Ivan Olbracht

THE BITTER AND THE SWEET

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KIRKUS REVIEW

These two short stories and one novella were written by a Czech who died in 1952 and is unfamiliar in this country. All are set in Polana, a little commune of Eastern European Jewry whose solidarity and single-minded observance of the canons and covenants of the faith have protected it through the years. In the first, Baynisch who carts stones but cannot feed his eight children, finds that the Lord always sends ""manna and quails"" from heaven for his chosen people. He fobs off his old horse on some goyish gentry. The second one deals with the desecration and purification of the local mikvah (bathhouse) in which Israel is ""to wash and be clean."" And in the third, the divisiveness of old and new in a changing, widening world becomes apparent through the story of Hannah who first drifts away from the poverty of the village toward the promise of Palestine, then marries an outsider from the city....Olbracht's Tales from the Old Country proceed from the venue of folk realism and ritual of this people; they are a quieter version of Sholem Aleichem and Isaac Bashevis Singer, without the dynamic comic spirit or vigor of either of these better known writers in the same genre.

Pub Date: April 29th, 1967
Publisher: Crown