THE MIDDLE GATE

AN HUNGARIAN JEWISH BOYHOOD

A didactic account of the author's first year of Talmud study, originally published in Hungarian in 1927 and posthumously translated. Born Joseph Klein in 1882 in the small Hungarian village of Pata, Patai (who renamed himself after his hometown) was raised in the strictly Orthodox Jewish tradition. He wore sidelocks and fringed garments, observed all the rituals, and studied the Talmud in cheder (Hebrew school) before he ever learned to read Hungarian. This study captivated him. In his chronology of a year in and out of cheder, Patai intersperses idealized memories of learning with starry-eyed recollections of Jewish life in Hungary at the end of the 19th century. He remembers the thrill of first being allowed to look into the large volume of the Talmud and then finding out what lay within: the debates, the stories, the glory, the riches of his Jewish ancestors. He glosses over the poverty and anti-Semitism that his family endured—for Patai, everything else was obscured by his passion for the magnificent old text. He tries to impress the reader with the wonder of the Talmud by describing his own awe, supplying numerous illustrations from the text itself, and telling stories of the sages with examples of their erudition, wisdom, and piety. All of this, however eloquently expressed, only gives the reader the briefest glimpse of what Patai feels for the Talmud. The effect is not so much emotional as instructional: Seen in the context provided by the author's son, Raphael Patai (The Jewish Alchemists, p. 533, etc.), in his biographical introduction to the volume, this memoir is but one of many efforts to reacquaint a nation with what Patai perceived to be its dying culture. In this, the poet, author, and editor typifies the Eastern European Haskalah, or Jewish Renaissance, which sought to revive the golden age of Judaism by recovering its heroic past. A highly romanticized paean to the Jewish tradition of learning.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1994

ISBN: 0-8276-0517-X

Page Count: 140

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1994

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...

THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE

50TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION

Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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IN MY PLACE

From the national correspondent for PBS's MacNeil-Lehrer Newshour: a moving memoir of her youth in the Deep South and her role in desegregating the Univ. of Georgia. The eldest daughter of an army chaplain, Hunter-Gault was born in what she calls the ``first of many places that I would call `my place' ''—the small village of Due West, tucked away in a remote little corner of South Carolina. While her father served in Korea, Hunter-Gault and her mother moved first to Covington, Georgia, and then to Atlanta. In ``L.A.'' (lovely Atlanta), surrounded by her loving family and a close-knit black community, the author enjoyed a happy childhood participating in activities at church and at school, where her intellectual and leadership abilities soon were noticed by both faculty and peers. In high school, Hunter-Gault found herself studying the ``comic-strip character Brenda Starr as I might have studied a journalism textbook, had there been one.'' Determined to be a journalist, she applied to several colleges—all outside of Georgia, for ``to discourage the possibility that a black student would even think of applying to one of those white schools, the state provided money for black students'' to study out of state. Accepted at Michigan's Wayne State, the author was encouraged by local civil-rights leaders to apply, along with another classmate, to the Univ. of Georgia as well. Her application became a test of changing racial attitudes, as well as of the growing strength of the civil-rights movement in the South, and Gault became a national figure as she braved an onslaught of hostilities and harassment to become the first black woman to attend the university. A remarkably generous, fair-minded account of overcoming some of the biggest, and most intractable, obstacles ever deployed by southern racists. (Photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-374-17563-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1992

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