EAGLE AT MY EYES by Norman Katkov


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Here is the problem of racial intermarriage -- handled from a different angle, that of the intolerance of the orthodox Jew towards the non-Jew, the ""goy"". Katkov gives us, blow by blow, what it means to be a Jew, profoundly Jewish in his very soul; who falls in love with a Christian, and cannot face what it means to his family relationships, his whole training and background-and yet who cannot give her up. Her so-called socially acceptable family admits him, though seething underneath, until they realize that he does not intend marriage, when the pent-up resentments come forth in a bitter, vivid scene. Eventually, Mary brings things to a head by accepting another man- and Joe marries her, and then again attempts to evade the issues. Here is the story of seven years of what is virtually psychoneurotic hysteria, of inability to yield any point to Mary, of failure to fit her into the background of his people, though his father (the best character in the book) does more than his share. At the close, when a final break seems inevitable, it is Pa who comes to Joe's help, by asking him first that he leave them alone, give him a measure of peace at home -- and then advises him to go to Mary, and try her way, since his has failed. An agonizing, painful and bitter book, but it may win over those who felt that Earth and High Heaven presented only one side fully and erred in sentimentalizing the romantic aspects, and these who felt that Gentleman is Agreement was synthetic both in its contrived situation and in the impossibility of a Jew knowing how a Jew felt. Well- for that audience, this is their book. But it doesn't make pleasant reading.

Pub Date: Jan. 2nd, 1947
Publisher: Doubleday