THE INN by Julian Stryjkowski


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This story of the gradual encirclement and gathering doom in the lives of Galician Jews during World War I by a Polish author transmutes an isolated tragedy into a delicate allegory of the Jewish experience or any people who ""have had to wind their way along a narrow passage of interdicts and edicts."" The innkeeper Tag, a kind of apocryphal Noah, a unifying chorus of tragedy and fortress of human dignity, offers sanctuary to the bewildered and dispossessed. Under his roof come a grieving boy with his dead love -- a young girl shot by soldiers; a ""Flock of Hallowed"" Hassids with their angel-wrestling tsaddik and their chattering women; village representatives of various religious and social views; and a confused Hussar. While the God-drunk Hassids pray and dance, while some mourn and others ponder a way out of the storm to come, Tag, with gentleness and decency, cares for his guests. The threatened disaster begins with a confrontation in the village square between Cossacks and leading Jews -- now obviously deserted by gentile friends since an innocent boy is hung and devastation seems inevitable. But Tag, sadly attended by a Catholic priest, dedicated to his friend's ""salvation,"" sets out to demand justice: ""One must save what can be saved."" The author has caught the vitality of a vanished folk ethic and community and has abstracted from it a statement concerning man's endurance through a dark night of inhumanity.

Pub Date: March 8th, 1972
Publisher: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich