Singer, Isaac Bashevis 1904–1991
Singer, Isaac Bashevis 1904–1991
(Isaac Bashevis, Isaac Singer, Isaac Warshofsky)
PERSONAL: Born July 14, 1904, in Radzymin, Poland; immigrated to United States, 1935; naturalized U.S. citizen, 1943; died after several strokes, July 24, 1991, in Surfside, FL; son of Pinchos Menachem (a rabbi and author) and Bathsheba (Zylberman) Singer; married; wife's name Rachel (divorced); married Alma Haimann, February 14, 1940; children: (first marriage) Israel Zamir. Education: Attended Tachkemoni Rabbinical Seminary, Warsaw, Poland, 1920–23. Religion: Jewish.
CAREER: Novelist, short story writer, children's author, and translator. Literarishe Bletter, Warsaw, Poland, proofreader and translator, 1923–33; Globus, Warsaw, associate editor, 1933–35; Jewish Daily Forward, New York, NY, member of staff, 1935–91. Founder of the literary magazine Svivah. Appeared in films Isaac in America and The Cafeteria (based on one of his short stories), both Direct Cinema Limited Associates, 1986.
MEMBER: Jewish Academy of Arts and Sciences (fellow), National Institute of Arts and Letters (fellow), Polish Institute of Arts and Sciences in America (fellow), American Academy of Arts and Sciences, PEN.
AWARDS, HONORS: Louis Lamed Prize, 1950, for The Family Moskat, and 1956, for Satan in Goray; National Institute of Arts and Letters and American Academy award in literature, 1959; Harry and Ethel Daroff Memorial Fiction Award, Jewish Book Council of America, 1963, for The Slave; D.H.L., Hebrew Union College, 1963; Foreign Book prize (France), 1965; National Council on the Arts grant, 1966; New York Times best illustrated book citation, 1966, Newbery Honor Book Award, 1967, International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY) honor list, 1982, Horn Book "Fanfare" citation, and American Library Association (ALA) notable book citation, all for Zlateh the Goat, and Other Stories; National Endowment for the Arts grant, 1967; Playboy magazine award for best fiction, 1967; Newbery Honor Book Award, 1968, for The Fearsome Inn; Bancarella Prize, 1968, for Italian translation of The Family Moskat; Newbery Honor Book Award, 1969, ALA notable book citation, and Horn Book honor list citation, all for When Schlemiel Went to Warsaw, and Other Stories; Brandeis University Creative Arts Medal for Poetry-Fiction, 1970; National Book Award for children's literature, 1970, and ALA notable book citation, both for A Day of Pleasure; Sydney Taylor Award, Association of Jewish Libraries, 1971; Children's Book Showcase Award, Children's Book Council, 1972, for Alone in the Wild Forest; D.Litt., Texas Christian University, 1972, Colgate University, 1972, Bard College, 1974, and Long Island University, 1979; Ph.D., Hebrew University, Jerusalem, 1973; National Book Award for fiction, 1974, for A Crown of Feathers and Other Stories; Agnon Gold Medal, 1975; ALA notable book citation, 1976, for Naftali the Storyteller and His Horse, Sus, and Other Stories; Nobel Prize for Literature, 1978; Kenneth B. Smilen/Present Tense Literary Award, Present Tense magazine, 1980, for The Power of Light; Los Angeles Times fiction prize nomination, 1982, for The Collected Stories of Isaac Bashevis Singer; New York Times outstanding book citation, and Horn Book honor list citation, both 1982, Parents' Choice Award, Parents' Choice Foundation, 1983, and ALA notable book citation, all for The Golem; New York Times notable book citation, and ALA notable book citation, both 1984, both for Stories for Children; Handel Medallion, 1986; PEN/Faulkner Award nomination, 1989, for The Death of Methuselah and Other Stories; Gold Medal for Fiction, American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters, 1989; Mazel and Shlimazel; or, The Milk of a Lioness and The Wicked City received ALA notable book citations.
NOVELS; ORIGINALLY IN YIDDISH
Der Satan in Gorey, [Warsaw, Poland], 1935, translation by Jacob Sloan published as Satan in Goray, Noonday Press (New York, NY), 1955, reprinted, Farrar, Straus (New York, NY), 1996.
(Under name Isaac Bashevis) Di Familie Mushkat, two volumes, [New York, NY], 1950, translation by A.H. Gross published under name Isaac Bashevis Singer as The Family Moskat, Knopf (New York, NY), 1950.
The Magician of Lublin, translation by Elaine Gottlieb and Joseph Singer, Noonday Press (New York, NY), 1960.
The Slave (also see below), translation by author and Cecil Hemley, Farrar, Straus (New York, NY), 1962.
The Manor (also see below), translation by Elaine Gottlieb and Joseph Singer, Farrar, Straus (New York, NY), 1967.
The Estate (also see below), translation by Elaine Gottlieb, Joseph Singer, and Elizabeth Shub, Farrar, Straus (New York, NY), 1969.
Enemies: A Love Story (first published in Jewish Daily Forward under title Sonim, di Geshichte fun a Liebe, 1966; also see below), translation by Aliza Shevrin and Elizabeth Shub, Farrar, Straus (New York, NY), 1972.
Shosha (also see below), translation by Joseph Singer, Farrar, Straus (New York, NY), 1978.
Reaches of Heaven: A Story of the Baal Shem Tov, Farrar, Straus (New York, NY), 1980.
Isaac Bashevis Singer, Three Complete Novels (includes The Slave, Enemies: A Love Story, and Shosha), Avenel Books (Avenel, NJ), 1982, reprinted, Wings Books (New York, NY), 1995.
The Penitent, Farrar, Straus (New York, NY), 1983.
The King of the Fields, limited edition, Farrar, Straus (New York, NY), 1988.
Scum, translation by Rosaline D. Schwartz, Farrar, Straus (New York, NY), 1991.
The Certificate, translation by Leonard Wolf, Farrar, Straus (New York, NY), 1992.
Meshugah, translation by Nili Wachtel, Farrar, Straus (New York, NY), 1994.
Shootns baym Hodson, translation by Joseph Sherman published as Shadows on the Hudson, Farrar, Straus (New York, NY), 1998.
The Manor and the Estate University of Wisconsin Press (Madison, WI), 2004.
SHORT-STORY COLLECTIONS; ORIGINALLY IN YIDDISH
Gimpel the Fool, and Other Stories, translation by Saul Bellow and others, Noonday Press (New York, NY), 1957.
The Spinoza of Market Street, and Other Stories, translation by Elaine Gottlieb and others, Farrar, Straus (New York, NY), 1961.
Short Friday, and Other Stories, translation by Ruth Whitman and others, Farrar, Straus (New York, NY), 1964.
Selected Short Stories, edited by Irving Howe, Modern Library (New York, NY), 1966.
The Seance, and Other Stories, translation by Ruth Whitman, Roger H. Klein, and others, Farrar, Straus (New York, NY), 1968.
(And translator with others) A Friend of Kafka, and Other Stories, Farrar, Straus (New York, NY), 1970.
An Isaac Bashevis Singer Reader, Farrar, Straus (New York, NY), 1971.
(And translator with others) A Crown of Feathers and Other Stories, Farrar, Straus (New York, NY), 1973.
Passions, and Other Stories, Farrar, Straus (New York, NY), 1975.
Old Love, and Other Stories, Farrar, Straus (New York, NY), 1979.
The Collected Stories of Isaac Bashevis Singer, Farrar, Straus (New York, NY), 1982.
The Image, and Other Stories, Farrar, Straus (New York, NY), 1985.
Gifts, Jewish Publication Society of America (Philadelphia, PA), 1985.
The Death of Methuselah and Other Stories, Farrar, Straus (New York, NY), 1988.
Collected Stories: Gimpel the Fool to the Letter Writer, edited by Ilan Stavans, Library of America (New York, NY), 2004.
Collected Stories: A Friend of Kafka to Passions, edited by Ilan Stavans, Library of America (New York, NY), 2004.
Collected Stories: One Night in Brazil to The Death of Methuselah, edited by Ilan Stavans, Library of America (New York, NY), 2004.
FOR CHILDREN; ORIGINALLY IN YIDDISH; AND TRANSLATOR WITH ELIZABETH SHUB
Mazel and Shlimazel; or, The Milk of a Lioness, illustrated by Margot Zemach, Harper (New York, NY), 1966.
Zlateh the Goat, and Other Stories, illustrated by Maurice Sendak, Harper (New York, NY), 1966.
The Fearsome Inn, illustrated by Nonny Hogrogian, Scribner (New York, NY), 1967.
When Schlemiel Went to Warsaw, and Other Stories (also see below), illustrated by Margot Zemach, Farrar, Straus (New York, NY), 1968.
(Under pseudonym Isaac Warshofsky) A Day of Pleasure: Stories of a Boy Growing up in Warsaw (autobiography), photographs by Roman Vishniac, Farrar, Straus (New York, NY), 1969.
Elijah the Slave: A Hebrew Legend Retold, illustrated by Antonio Frasconi, Farrar, Straus (New York, NY), 1970.
Joseph and Koza; or, The Sacrifice to the Vistula, illustrated by Symeon Shimin, Farrar, Straus (New York, NY), 1970.
Alone in the Wild Forest, illustrated by Margot Zemach, Farrar, Straus (New York, NY), 1971.
The Topsy-Turvy Emperor of China, illustrated by William Pene du Bois, Harper (New York, NY), 1971, reprinted with illustrations by Julian Jusim, Farrar, Straus (New York, NY), 1996.
The Wicked City, illustrated by Leonard Everett Fisher, Farrar, Straus (New York, NY), 1972.
The Fools of Chelm and Their History, illustrated by Uri Shulevitz, Farrar, Straus (New York, NY), 1973.
Why Noah Chose the Dove, illustrated by Eric Carle, Farrar, Straus (New York, NY), 1974.
A Tale of Three Wishes, illustrated by Irene Lieblich, Farrar, Straus (New York, NY), 1975.
Naftali the Storyteller and His Horse, Sus, and Other Stories (also see below), illustrated by Margot Zemach, Farrar, Straus (New York, NY), 1976.
The Power of Light: Eight Stories for Hanukkah (also see below), illustrated by Irene Lieblich, Farrar, Straus (New York, NY), 1980.
The Golem, illustrated by Uri Shulevitz, Farrar, Straus (New York, NY), 1982.
Stories for Children (includes stories from Naftali the Storyteller and His Horse, Sus, and Other Stories, When Schlemiel Went to Warsaw and Other Stories, and The Power of Light), Farrar, Straus (New York, NY), 1984.
Shrewd Todie and Lyzer the Miser and Other Children's Stories, illustrated by Margot Zemach, Barefoot Books (Boston, MA), 1994.
AUTOBIOGRAPHY; ORIGINALLY IN YIDDISH; UNDER PSEUDONYM ISAAC WARSHOFSKY
Mayn Tatn's Bes-din Shtub, [New York, NY], 1956, translation by Channah Kleinerman-Goldstein published under name Isaac Bashevis Singer as In My Father's Court, Farrar, Straus (New York, NY), 1966.
A Little Boy in Search of God: Mysticism in a Personal Light (also see below), illustrated by Ira Moskow-itz, Doubleday (Garden City, NY), 1976.
A Young Man in Search of Love (also see below), translation by Joseph Singer, Doubleday (Garden City, NY), 1978.
Lost in America (also see below), translation by Joseph Singer, paintings and drawings by Raphael Soyer, Doubleday (Garden City, NY), 1981.
Love and Exile: The Early Years: A Memoir (includes A Little Boy in Search of God: Mysticism in a Personal Light, A Young Man in Search of Love, and Lost in America), Doubleday (Garden City, NY), 1984.
More Stories from My Father's Court, translation by Curt Leviant, Farrar, Straus (New York, NY), 2000.
PLAYS; ORIGINALLY IN YIDDISH
The Mirror (also see below), produced in New Haven, CT, 1973.
(With Leah Napolin) Yentl, the Yeshiva Boy (adaptation of a story by Singer; produced on Broadway, 1974), Samuel French (New York, NY), 1978.
Schlemiel the First, produced in New Haven, CT, 1974.
(With Eve Friedman) Teibele and Her Demon (produced in Minneapolis at Guthrie Theatre, 1978, produced on Broadway, 1979), Samuel French (New York, NY), 1984.
A Play for the Devil (based on his short story "The Unseen"), produced in New York City at the Folksbi-ene Theatre, 1984.
TRANSLATOR INTO YIDDISH
Knut Hamsun, Pan, Wilno (Warsaw, Poland), 1928.
Knut Hamsun, Di Vogler (translation of The Vagabonds), Wilno (Warsaw, Poland), 1928.
Gabriele D'Annunzio, In Opgrunt Fun Tayve (translation of In Passion's Abyss), Goldfarb (Warsaw, Poland), 1929.
Karin Michaelis, Mete Trap, Goldfarb (Warsaw, Poland), 1929.
Stefan Zweig, Roman Rolan, Bikher (Warsaw, Poland), 1929.
Knut Hamsun, Viktorya (translation of Victoria), Wilno (Warsaw, Poland), 1929.
Erich Maria Remarque, Oyfn Mayrev-Front Keyn Nayes (translation of All Quiet on the Western Front), Wilno (Warsaw, Poland), 1930.
Thomas Mann, Der Tsoyberbarg (translation of The Magic Mountain), four volumes, Wilno (Warsaw, Poland), 1930.
Erich Maria Remarque, Der Veg oyf Tsurik (translation of The Road Back), Wilno (Warsaw, Poland), 1930.
Moshe Smilansky, Araber: Folkstimlekhe Geshikhtn (translation of Arabs: Stories of the People), Farn Folk (Warsaw, Poland), 1932.
Leon S. Glaser, Fun Moskve biz Yerusholayim (translation of From Moscow to Jerusalem), Jankowitz, 1938.
(Editor with Elaine Gottlieb) Prism 2, Twayne (Boston, MA), 1965.
Visit to the Rabbinical Seminary in Cincinnati, [New York, NY], 1965.
(With Ira Moscowitz) The Hasidim: Paintings, Drawings, and Etchings, Crown (New York, NY), 1973.
Nobel Lecture, Farrar, Straus (New York, NY), 1979.
The Gentleman from Cracow; The Mirror, illustrated with water colors by Raphael Soyer, introduction by Harry I. Moore, Limited Editions Club, 1979.
Isaac Bashevis Singer on Literature and Life, University of Arizona Press (Tucson, AZ), 1979.
My Personal Conception of Religion, University of Southwestern Louisiana Press (Lafayette, LA), 1982.
One Day of Happiness, Red Ozier Press, 1982.
Remembrances of a Rabbi's Son, translated by Rena Borrow, United Jewish Appeal-Federation Campaign, 1984.
(With Richard Burgin) Conversations with Isaac Bashevis Singer, Farrar, Straus (New York, NY), 1986.
The Safe Deposit and Other Stories about Grandparents, Old Lovers, and Crazy Old Men ("Masterworks of Modern Jewish Writing" series), edited by Kerry M. Orlitzky, Wiener, Markus (New York, NY), 1989.
Isaac Bashevis Singer: Conversations, edited by Grace Farrell, University Press of Mississippi (Jackson, MS), 1992.
Also author of works under name Isaac Singer. Author of the introduction for Knut Hamsun's Hunger, Farrar, Straus (New York, NY), 1967; of the preface for Ruth Whitman's An Anthology of Modern Yiddish Poetry, Workmen's Circle Education Department (New York, NY), 1979; and of the introduction and commentary for Richard Nagler's My Love Affair with Miami Beach, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1991. Contributor to books, including Tully Filmus, edited by Anatol Filmus, Jewish Publication Society of America (Philadelphia, PA), 1971; and Miami Beach, by Gary Monroe, Forest & Trees, 1989. Contributor of stories and articles to periodicals in the United States and Poland, including Die Yiddische Welt, Commentary, Esquire, New Yorker, Globus, Literarishe Bletter, Harper's, and Partisan Review.
Sound recordings include Isaac Bashevis Singer Reading His Stories (contains Gimpel the Fool and The Man Who Came Back), and Isaac Bashevis Singer Reading His Stories in Yiddish (contains Big and Little, Shiddah and Kuziba, and The Man Who Came Back), both Caedmon Records, both 1967. Singer's works are housed in the Elman Collection, Arents Research Library, Syracuse University, and at the Butler Library, Columbia University.
ADAPTATIONS: Filmstrips based on Singer's short stories include: Isaac Singer and Mrs. Pupko's Bread, New Yorker, 1973, Rabbi Leib and the Witch Cunnegunde, Miller-Brody Productions, 1976, and Shrewd Todie and Lyzer the Miser, Miller-Brody Productions, 1976; works adapted into filmstrips by Miller-Brody Productions include Zlateh the Goat, and Other Stories, When Schlemiel Went to Warsaw, and Why Noah Chose the Dove, all 1975, and Mazel and Shlimazel, 1976. Zlateh the Goat, and Other Stories was adapted into a film by Weston Woods, 1973, and broadcast on National Broadcasting Company (NBC-TV), 1973. The Magician of Lublin was adapted into a film starring Alan Arkin, produced by Menahem Golan, 1978. Gimpel the Fool was adapted for the stage by David Schechter and produced by the Bakery Theater Cooperative of New York, 1982. Yentl, the Yeshiva Boy was adapted into the movie Yentl, starring Barbra Streisand, who also directed, and from a screenplay she wrote with Jack Rosenthal, and released by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer/United Artists, 1983. Enemies: A Love Story was adapted into a film by Paul Mazursky and Roger L. Simon, directed by Mazursky and starring Ron Silver, Anjelica Huston, Lena Olin, and Margaret Sophie Stein, and released by Twentieth Century-Fox, 1989. Meshugah was adapted for the stage by playwright Emily Mann in a production directed by Loretta Greco at the Kirk Theater in New York, 2003. Works adapted into recordings read by Eli Wallach include: When Schlemiel Went to Warsaw, and Other Stories, Newbery Awards Records, 1974, Zlateh the Goat, and Other Stories, Newbery Award Records, 1974, Eli Wallach Reads Isaac Bashevis Singer (contains Zlateh the Goat, and Other Stories and When Schlemiel Went to Warsaw, and Other Stories), Miller-Brody Productions, 1976, and Isaac Bashevis Singer (contains The Seance and The Lecture), Spoken Arts, 1979. The Family Moskat, The Slave, Satan in Goray, Passions, and Other Stories, and In My Father's Court were adapted into audio cassettes; about twenty of Singer's works have been adapted into Braille editions; more than a dozen of Singer's works have been adapted into talking books.
SIDELIGHTS: Widely proclaimed to be one of the foremost writers of Yiddish literature, Isaac Bashevis Singer stood clearly outside the mainstream and basic traditions of both Yiddish and American literature. His work, translated into numerous languages, won him the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1978, as well as numerous other prestigious honors. "The river of words that flowed from Singer's pen is vast: hundreds of short stories, volumes of autobiography, a dozen novels and even more children's books," noted Lore Dickstein in the New York Times Book Review. Dickstein added, "He was embraced by a large, unlikely audience, including readers of Playboy and The New Yorker, most of them far removed from the lost world of Eastern European Jewry that Singer evoked so pungently." The critic also noted that Singer "is the most magical of writers, transforming reality into art with seemingly effortless sleight of hand. His deceptively spare prose has a pristine clarity that is stunning in its impact." Lee Siegel, also writing in the New York Times Book Review, deemed Singer "the creator of stories and novels that, at their best, are like hard diamonds of perfection."
Singer's writing has proven difficult to categorize, with critics attaching to the author various and sometimes contradictory labels in an attempt to define his work. He was called a modernist, although he personally disliked most contemporary fiction, and he was also accused of being captivated by the past, of writing in a dying language despite his English fluency, of setting his fiction in a world that no longer exists: the shtetls (Jewish ghettos) of Eastern Europe, which were destroyed by Hitler's campaign against the Jews. And despite the attention called to the mysticism, the prolific presence of the supernatural, and the profoundly religious nature of his writing, Singer was called both a realist and a pessimist. Undeniably a difficult author to place in critical perspective, Singer once addressed himself to the problems of labeling his work in an interview with Cyrene N. Pondrom for Contemporary Literature: "People always need a name for things, so whatever you will write or whatever you will do, they like to put you into a certain category. Even if you would be new, they would like to feel that a name is already prepared for you in advance…. I hope that one day somebody will find a new name for me, not use the old ones."
Whatever else he was, Singer was a storyteller. His works deal with crises of faith: having discarded their old traditions as inadequate to cope with modern society, his characters are engaged in a fruitless search for something to replace them. "Singer portrays men who are between faiths," Nili Wachtel explained in Judaism. "Having freed themselves from the bonds of God and community, they have also freed themselves from their very identities. With their God and their community, they knew who they were and what they were expected to do; now they know nothing as certain." Michael Wood similarly observed in the New York Review of Books: "Again and again in his fiction Singer evokes the destruction of a community, the crumbling of a whole social edifice, because people, one way or another, have averted their faces from a truth they used to know."
The key to Singer's work lies in his background, in his roots in the Polish, Yiddish-speaking, Jewish ghettos. "I was born with the feeling that I am part of an unlikely adventure, something that couldn't have happened, but happened just the same," Singer once remarked to a Book Week interviewer. Born in a small Polish town, Singer was the son of a Hasidic rabbi, and both his grandfathers were also rabbis. Visiting his maternal grandfather in the rural village of Bilgoray as a young boy, Singer learned of life in the shtetl, which would become the setting of much of his later work. The village was a "world of old Jewishness [in which] I found a spiritual treasure trove," the author was quoted as saying in the Dictionary of Literary Biography Yearbook, "Time seemed to flow backwards. I lived Jewish history."
The young Singer received a basic Jewish education, preparing him to follow his father's and grandfathers' steps into the rabbinical vocation. He studied the Torah, the Talmud, the Cabala, and other sacred Jewish books. An even stronger influence than his education and his parents' orthodoxy, however, was his older brother, the novelist I.J. Singer, who broke with the family's orthodoxy and began to write secular stories. Attempting to overcome the influence of his brother's rationalism and to strengthen the cause of religion, his parents told him stories of dybbuks (wandering souls in Jewish folklore believed to enter a human body and control its actions, possessions, and other spiritual mysteries). Singer once commented that he was equally fascinated by his parents' mysticism and his brother's rationalism. Although this duality would come to characterize much of his writing, eventually Singer would break from both traditions.
At seventeen Singer entered a seminary in Warsaw, but he left two years later to follow his brother into the world of arts and letters. He got a proofreading job with a Yiddish literary magazine, worked as a translator, and at twenty-three had his first piece of fiction published. Concerned about German aggression and the policies of Adolf Hitler, Singer left Poland in 1935 and joined his brother in New York City. There he married and began a long career as a journalist and writer for the Jewish Daily Forward. The periodical would serve as the first publisher of many of Singer's works—short stories, articles, and serialized novels in Yiddish.
Singer continued to do all of his writing in Yiddish, and much of his large body of writing remained untranslated after his death in 1991. Before he felt sufficiently fluent in English, Singer had to rely on other people to do the translations; his nephew Joseph Singer was responsible for much of it. Toward the end of his career, though, Singer usually did a rough translation into English himself and then had someone help him polish the English version and work on the idioms. The English translations were often a "second original," according to Singer, differing structurally from the Yiddish. "I used to play with the idea [of writing in English]," Singer once admitted in an interview with Joel Blocker and Richard Elman for Commentary, "but never seriously. Never. I always knew that a writer has to write in his own language or not at all."
Singer described Yiddish in his Nobel lecture as "a language of exile, without a land, without frontiers, not supported by any government, a language which possesses no words for weapons, ammunition, military exercises, war tactics; a language that was despised by both gentiles and emancipated Jews…. Yiddish has not yet said its last word. It contains treasures that have not been revealed to the eyes of the world. It was the tongue of martyrs and saints, of dreamers and cabalists—rich in humor and in memories that mankind may never forget. In a figurative way, Yiddish is the wise and humble language of us all, the idiom of the frightened and hopeful humanity."
Aside from believing that he must write in his native tongue, Singer also believed that the function of his fiction should be entertainment. "I never thought that my fiction—my kind of writing—had any other purpose than to be read and enjoyed by the reader," he commented to Sanford Pinsker in The Schlemiel as Metaphor: Studies in the Yiddish and American Jewish Novel. "I never sit down to write a novel to make a better world or to create good feelings towards the Jews or for any other purpose," he continued. "I knew this from the very beginning, that writing fiction has no other purpose than to give enjoyment to a reader…. I consider myself an entertainer…. I mean an entertainer of good people, of intellectual people who cannot be entertained by cheap stuff. And I think this is true about fiction in all times."
Singer's first novel, Satan in Goray, was first published in Yiddish in 1935. The novel's action takes place in a small Hasidic community in Poland during the seventeenth century. Cossacks have raided the closely knit community, and the shtetl easily accepts the promises of a false messiah, Sabbatai Zevi. As violations of religious law take place, a rash of strange, demonic occurrences erupts, eventually concentrating themselves in Zevi's chosen bride, who becomes pregnant with Sa-tan's child. According to Ted Hughes, writing in the New York Review of Books, the novel is Singer's "weakest book—important, and with a stunning finish, but for the most part confusingly organized." Hughes added that the supernatural elements provide "an accurate metaphor for a cultural landslide that has destroyed all spiritual principles and duped an entire age into a cynical materialism emptied of meaning." In his critical work Isaac Bashevis Singer: The Magician of West 86th Street Paul Kresh described Satan in Goray as "rich in vivid, convincing descriptions of things, places and people [and] … haunting in its imagery."
The Family Moskat departs from its predecessor and offers a long, epic vision of a large family in a big Polish city. Radical changes are afoot, and the narrator, Asa Heshel, not only participates in them himself but also observes their effects upon the Moskat family. The story ends as the Nazis are about to invade, and Asa leaves his family behind to join the army. Spectator critic John Daniel called the work "a considerable novel" with "powerfully created characters; a deep sense of Warsaw as a city; and a real saturation in Jewish lore." In Yiddish Literature Charles A. Madison praised the novel's characterizations, concluding that the book "is an intensely conceived narrative pulsating with human life and revealing the inner emotional recesses of the individuals involved."
Turning to yet another format, the picaresque adventure The Magician of Lublin follows magician and acrobat Yasha Mazur as he courts several women—even though he already has a devoted wife and family. According to Critical Quarterly contributor David Seed, this novel "is certainly one of Singer's most concentrated and unified works," mainly because the disordered setting of the Warsaw streets matches the emotional crisis suffered by Yasha, whose conscience pains him even as he involves himself in trouble. In addition, Nili Wachtel observed in Judaism that Yasha's profession—magician and tightrope walker—reflects the dilemma of rootless modern man: "He is afraid to be fixed by a single and permanent identity…. He has no peace, he feels himself dangling; he is walking his tightrope, he feels, but always on the verge of disaster." Yasha finally reconciles his conscience with his actions by enclosing himself in a cell, locked away from the potential to misbehave. "That his singular behavior, which would normally seem queer, appears plausible is due to Singer's powers of exposition and characterization," Madison remarked, for the characters "are portrayed realistically, without affection or sympathy, but also without manipulation and artfulness."
Whether they feature sweeping historical events or the singular struggles of an individual, Singer's novels express his concern with issues of faith and freedom. Set in Poland in the seventeenth century, The Slave features the religious crises the protagonist, Jacob, suffers as he experiences various forms of freedom and slavery, some of them mirroring Biblical events. New York Times Book Review contributor Milton Hindus found the novel "overburdened … with too much allegorical sugges-tiveness" but allowed that "there is a lovely lyricism in some of the descriptive passages which makes them partake of the quality of expressionist paintings." Madison praised the appealing characters and setting, concluding that "all of this folklore, exotic atmosphere, and genuine emotion is depicted with an intimate knowledge and artistic sensuousness that combine to give the book major status as a work of fiction."
In The Manor and The Estate Singer once again took an epic approach in portraying an era of Polish-Jewish history. The two volumes cover the last third of the nineteenth century, a time of dramatic change. "As in his earlier novels," Madison related, "Singer deals at length and significantly with the events and salient thoughts and ideas of the time in which his characters live and function." Nili Wachtel remarked in Judaism that the central character's experience "gives voice to what it is that ails modern man. Alone, independent, free of any single influence or direction, modern man becomes aware of a chaotic world alive within him, a churning chaos of conflicting drives and ambitions." These two novels, according to Seed, "raise various theoretical issues (usually in explicit discussion) and one of their central themes is the notion of progress."
Later Singer works reflect his experiences living not just as an exile from his homeland, but also as one of the few survivors of a culture that was exterminated by the Holocaust. In Enemies: A Love Story Herman Broder is a Polish refugee whose entire family has perished in the death camps. He has immigrated to America, where he lives in New York with Yadwiga, the Polish woman who saved him from the Nazis by hiding him in her hayloft. Although Yadwiga has converted to Judaism for him, Herman has taken a mistress, the divorced Masha, who lives with her mother, a bitter survivor of a concentration camp. When Herman discovers that the wife he thought had perished during the war is actually alive and living in New York, it sets in motion a tragicomic series of events. Enemies "is a bleak, obsessive novel that offers neither release nor hope," Dickstein observed in the New York Times Book Review. Kresh, however, felt that the book "hangs together uncommonly well" and praised Singer's focus on the love story. He explained that the author concentrates "on the lines of force that bond his characters together, ironi-cally, angrily, passionately, even though life has done everything to deprive them of their illusions and their appetites." Newsweek contributor Walter Clemons concluded, "Whether or not you accept its ending, Enemies: A Love Story is a brilliant, unsettling novel."
The author's most autobiographical novel, Shosha, "is filled with the usual Singer questions about demonic possession, free-floating souls, an archive of spirits, a world rife with secret powers and occult mysteries," reported Edward Hirsch in the Saturday Review. "But mostly it is a testament to the haunting power of the past." Taking place in the Warsaw of the 1920s and 1930s, Shosha follows the developing relationship between a rabbi's son and the title character, a somewhat simple and innocent girl. As the protagonist looks for his place and for meaning in the world, he wanders from woman to woman until he returns to his childhood friend. "Singer conveys a sense of the teeming particularities of Polish-Jewish life," Robert Alter remarked in the New Republic. Alter added, "Singer, here as elsewhere, is so beguiling a writer that one readily forgives the flaws of his work." In Harper's, Paul Berman wrote that Shosha is "an entertaining novel, for though Singer is an earnest writer, his earnestness steps lightly." Kresh declared Shosha a "powerful and important work," adding that while the characters and themes are familiar ground for Singer, "Shosha casts a fresh light on them, making their story one of the most poignant Isaac has ever written."
Several Singer novels have been translated and published posthumously, including Scum, The Certificate, Meshugah, and Shadows on the Hudson. A dybbuk and Polish Jewry figure in Scum. In 1906 Max Barabander has returned to Warsaw from Argentina some twenty years after leaving. Because of shady dealings, he now is a wealthy man, but he is impotent after the sudden death of his teenage son and his wife's isolation. In Warsaw he becomes a philanderer, convinced he is possessed by a dybbuk, and a master of language. "There is, as Singer warns, little of God's wisdom and mercy in this book, but the display of human perversity and sheer cussedness is enthralling," Paul Gray remarked in Time.
The Certificate "is a mildly engaging piece of work, more fictionalized memoir than anything else," commented Kenneth Turan in the Los Angeles Times Book Review. The protagonist is unpublished writer David Bendinger, whose father is a rabbi and brother is a writer. After four years in the country, Bendinger returns to Warsaw seeking a certificate from the British government that will allow him to immigrate to Palestine. Through Bendinger's relationships with three very different women, Singer subtly criticizes the Zionists, Communists, and the religious Jewish community and reveals Bendinger's anxieties. "It is impossible not to feel the charm of this book, which may be the most Jewish of all Singer's works. The warmest and the saddest too," remarked Chicago Tribune Books reviewer Elie Wiesel.
Originally titled Lost Souls, Meshugah (Yiddish for "crazy") describes the encounters that Polish exile Aaron Greidinger has with Holocaust survivors in early-1950s Manhattan. "The various survivors, all mourning loved ones, are indeed 'lost souls,' subject to melancholy, poisonous dreams and thoughts of suicide," Joel Conarroe pointed out in the New York Times Book Review. "As for the concept of meshugah," Conarroe added, "Singer weaves into his narrative references to the innate craziness not only of his high-strung men and women, but of the mad events that have shaped their behavior." George Packer commented in Washington Post Book World that in Meshugah Singer uses his "familiar bag of tricks: love triangles and quadrangles, sudden reversals from disaster to fulfillment and back, relentless questions about good and evil." However, concluded Packer, "the concoction lacks Singer's customary zest." According to Mark Shechner in Chicago Tribune Books, the previously serialized story "is reminiscent of daytime television" because it is episodic and contains licentiousness and pathos. However, stressed Shechner, "its licentiousness, far from being a commercial pandering to the market, is a tragic metaphysics, warranted by the apocalypses of the 20th century."
Shadows on the Hudson once again is concerned with the lives of Jewish refugees in World War II-era Manhattan. Hertz Dovid Grein, a Polish native, struggles to reconcile his simultaneous passions for three women while wrestling with theological, philosophical, and political issues pertinent to the times. The novel, like most of Singer's other works, was published serially in The Jewish Daily Forward; unlike the others, however, its publication in novel form does not include editing of redundant or repetitive passages. The work is therefore long and—some critics felt—tedious in places. Siegel noted in the New York Times Book Review that the "shapeless lump does a keen disservice to the author of 'Gimpel the Fool.'" Concluding that the novel "would have been a failure under any circumstances," Siegel determined that it "would have been a respectable failure if only Singer's editors had striven in the slightest degree." Commentary reviewer Hillel Hakin, however, deemed the work "an absorbing novel," which "has the added value of showing us a Singer who, precisely because he seems more morally earnest and religiously anguished than the artful juggler of demons, dybbuks, and eccentric Jews that his American readers came to know him as, makes us realize how elaborately crafted was this impish mask of his later years." Rita D. Jacobs, critiquing the book for World Literature Today, allowed that Singer may have wanted "to sharpen his focus and his tale," but thought the novel was nevertheless "rich, various, evocative, and thought-provoking" and "well worth reading."
Although his novels were frequently noteworthy, Singer was perhaps better known as a master of the short story. Story-writing was his most effective and favorite genre because, as he once explained, it was more possible to be perfect in the short story than in a longer work. Furthermore, Singer did not think that the supernatural—which was his main element—lent itself well to longer, novelistic writing. Singer's style in the short story was simple, spare, and in the tradition of the spoken tale. In his Commentary interview, the author remarked: "When I tell a story, I tell a story. I don't try to discuss, criticize, or analyze my characters." Nation reviewer Dan Isaac commented that Singer's short stories "are far superior to his novels" because they more closely follow the Jewish literary tradition of "the proverb, the parable and the folk tale." In Studies in Short Fiction, John Lawrence Abbott declared, "The short story continues to remain Singer's most congenial turf. It is here that the economy of style and the deceptive simplicity of his vision can be most richly felt." Hughes also observed that Singer's stories "give freer play to his invention than the novels. At their best, they must be among the most entertaining pieces extant. Each is a unique exercise in tone, focus, style, form, as well as an unforgettable re-creation of characters and life." It was Singer's first collection of short fiction, Gimpel the Fool, and Other Stories, that first gained him a wider English-speaking audience. Part of the notoriety came from the collection's translator, for novelist Saul Bellow, himself a future Nobel laureate, was already critically acclaimed for his own fiction. But it was primarily the quality of the stories that captivated readers, particularly the title story about a supposed "fool" whose innocent faith protects him from the evil that harms others. Leon Wieseltier, writing in the New York Review of Books, felt that the collection "contains Singer's best work, his boldest and liveliest inventions. And it belies at once his familiar disclaimer that he is only a storyteller. He is not. His tales are thick with speculation and prejudice, and both are damaging." The 1961 compilation The Spinoza of Market Street, and Other Stories also won notice for its title piece, which concerns a Jewish scholar who eventually finds happiness in marriage, not philosophy. New Republic contributor Irving Howe remarked that the collection, while demonstrating nothing unexpected of Singer, is still the work of "a writer who has mastered his chosen form and keeps producing work often distinguished and always worthy of attention."
After his 1964 short story collection, Short Friday, and Other Stories, Singer's fiction began to show the influence of his adopted homeland. Many of the author's later stories featured Jews transplanted to America after World War II. The stories in A Friend of Kafka, for instance, "show this venerable master seriously extending his range," according to Jay L. Halio in Southern Review. Some stories still utilize Singer's popular Polish village settings, but there are many more following the lives of Jewish immigrants in America, Israel, and Argentina. Time correspondent Stefan Kanfer believed that "these twenty-one miraculous creations are, in the highest artistic tradition, true stories." Dan Isaac commented that the collection "is by far the best thing we have" from Singer, adding in his Nation review that the author "seems to go from strength to strength as though increasing age had become the generative force."
The 1974 National Book Award-winning collection A Crown of Feathers also demonstrated Singer's growing preoccupation with life in America. According to William Peden in Sewanee Review, "whether [Singer's] landscape be a Warsaw soup kitchen for intellectuals, an old world haunted by demons, imps, and dybbuks of the past, or a cafeteria in Coney Island, it is alive and vibrant with unforgettable people." While Nation writer Seymour Kleinberg found A Crown of Feathers "the least rewarding of Singer's … short-story collections," he acknowledged that "his literary craftsmanship and sophistication, and the special Singer voice, are here and gratifying; only in comparison with his past achievements does the book fall short." Crawford Woods concluded in his New Republic review, "These unusually fine stories take joy in paradox but not in irony, and they're often tragic but never sad. If their resemblance to each other makes the book seem long, it also makes it cut deep. What might be a sign of limitation in a lesser writer in Singer must be seen as wisdom. He is one of our best storytellers—'our' meaning everybody."
Later Singer collections garnered much the same praise as his previous works. In his Studies in Short Fiction review of Passions, and Other Stories, Timothy Evans maintained, "Here is passion in the art, an imaginative providence as prodigal as ever, a talent in its prime, a writer to be rejoiced in." New York Times columnist John Gross observed of The Image, and Other Stories that while the themes and subjects are familiar, "in another sense, virtually every story in the book comes as a surprise, with the freshness of a bold conception firmly imagined and confidently executed." Singer, the critic concluded, "remains a true storyteller—at every stage, you want to know what happens next—and there has been no falling-off in the quality of his writing."
Even into his eighties Singer continued to produce new works of short fiction at a rapid pace. The final collection published during his lifetime, The Death of Methuselah and Other Stories, demonstrates that "like a vintage wine, Isaac Bashevis Singer gets better with time," commented Lothar Kahn in World Literature Today. The stories include many of the same themes and supernatural occurrences that characterize his earlier fiction. In one, an exorcist eventually gives in to his own demons; in another, an artist discovers he has spent his creativity on love rather than art; in a third, a Florida retiree cannot give up his wheeler-dealer lifestyle even though it jeopardizes his health. New Leader contributor David Evanier thought that while "Singer does not here attain the heights he scaled three decades ago in Gimpel the Fool, and Other Stories, he remains one of our best short form writers … Singer instantly breathes life into his people. He makes them real and urgent. We are drawn irresistibly into their lives and turn the pages with eagerness." Believing that for Singer, the urge to create and learn was as tempting as sex, Robert Pinsky wrote in the New York Times Book Review that "Singer's stories both demonstrate the power and irresistible attraction of such [creative] secular arts, and question the moral force underneath the attraction."
In addition to his work for adult readers, Singer penned a number of acclaimed children's books. "Children are the best readers of genuine literature," Singer remarked in Top of the News, "In our epoch, when storytelling has become a forgotten art and has been replaced by amateurish sociology and hackneyed psychology, the child is still the independent reader who relies on nothing but his own taste…. Long after literature for adults will have gone to pieces, books for children will constitute that last vestige of storytelling, logic, faith in the family, in God and in real humanism."
Most of Singer's children's books are collections of short stories in which "religion and custom dominate life and a rich folktale tradition abounds," according to Sylvia W. Iskander in the Dictionary of Literary Biography. A number of his stories are set in the humorous Polish city of Chelm—a town that Yiddish people view as a place of fools. And they also include schlemiel (eternal loser) characters, who naturally reside in the city of Chelm. They are essentially fools, but are portrayed as being charming and engaging, as is the city itself. Aside from these humorous and silly tales, Singer also wrote stories about animals and such supernatural beings as witches, goblins, devils, and demons. "Certainly the union of stories by a Nobel laureate storyteller with illustrations by some of the finest artists in the field of children's literature has produced outstanding books," concluded Iskander. "But it is the content of the stories—the combination of folklore, fairy tale, religion, and imagination—that makes Singer's books unique and inimitable."
With so many of his fictional works finding a basis in the author's own experiences, it is not surprising that Singer also published several volumes of autobiography. These include In My Father's Court, A Little Boy in Search of God, A Young Man in Search of Love, Lost in America, and More Stories from My Father's Court. "Singer makes vivid a world triply gone," observed Jonathan Rosen in the New York Times Book Review. "He is evoking the world of childhood, which is always a lost world, as well as the culture of Judaism that produced his father but that was already breaking apart under the weight of assimilation. He is also recording the transitional realm of Jewish Poland that Singer himself was born into in 1904—a world that was destroyed by the Nazis, who murdered the Jewish prostitutes and the rabbis without distinction. Writing in the aftermath of that destruction, Singer pays his characters the high honor of recreating them in all their low reality, which in some paradoxical way seems like an act of profound humanism."
Although Singer died in 1991, most of his work is still in print, and new translations of Yiddish prose and fiction are continuing to appear. Some critics have suggested that the author's use of a vanishing language, traditional folklore, and "old country" settings belie a modern consciousness that could address issues central to universal human emotion. "Singer repetitively and compellingly focuses on the individual's struggle to find a viable faith in the age possessed by this very problem," Linda G. Zatlin commented in Critique. "Thus, the stories, despite their setting,… portray and explore this predominant problem of modern man with all its accompanying apprehension and tension." For Commentary contributor Joseph Epstein it was Singer's skill at recreating eras that made him noteworthy. "No modern writer in any literature that I know is so adept at setting his stories anywhere he wishes temporally," Epstein wrote. "This ability sets much of Singer's writing finally beyond time, which is of course where everyone who thinks himself an artist wishes to be." "Singer is one of the great tale-tellers of this century," Sean French observed in New Statesman and Society. "He has a skill for the gripping short narrative, the 'yarn' that is almost without precedent since the time of Kipling…. Singer is better than anyone else on the surfaces, sounds and smells of life, about worldly things—lust, acquisitiveness, magic, superstition."
Julia O'Faolain summed up Singer's accomplishment in her New Review piece on the Nobel laureate. "My pleasure in Singer's work comes from no fact he imparts," she stated. "The virtue is in the tale itself and the tale is his response to those riddles which excite such passion in him that he had to elaborate a narrative method for dealing with it. It is his own method and fits his themes. In other words, he has a voice of his own." Noting that Singer was "a remarkable storyteller, at once swift and complex," Peter S. Prescott concluded in Newsweek, "I believe that Singer, in his short and humorous tales drawn from an old tradition, celebrates the dignity, mystery and unexpected joy of living with more art and fervor than any other writer."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Alexander, Edward, Isaac Bashevis Singer, Twayne (Boston, MA), 1980.
Allentuck, Marcia, editor, The Achievement of Isaac Bashevis Singer, Southern Illinois University Press (Carbondale, IL), 1967.
Allison, Alida, Isaac Bashevis Singer: Children's Stories and Memoirs, Twayne (New York, NY), 1996.
Authors and Artists for Young Adults, Volume 29, Thomson Gale (Detroit, MI), 1999.
Authors in the News, Thomson Gale (Detroit, MI), Volume 1, 1976, Volume 2, 1976.
Biletzky, Israel Ch., God, Jew, Satan in the Works of Isaac Bashevis-Singer, University Press of America (Lanham, MD), 1995.
Buchen, Irving H., Isaac Bashevis Singer and the Eternal Past, New York University Press (New York, NY), 1968.
Children's Literature Review, Volume 1, Thomson Gale (Detroit, MI), 1976.
Concise Dictionary of American Literary Biography: The New Consciousness, 1941–1968, Thomson Gale (Detroit, MI), 1987.
Contemporary Literary Criticism, Thomson Gale (Detroit, MI), Volume 1, 1973, Volume 3, 1975, Volume 6, 1976, Volume 9, 1978, Volume 11, 1979, Volume 15, 1980, Volume 23, 1983, Volume 38, 1986, Volume 69, 1992.
Denman, Hugh, Isaac Bashevis Singer: His Work and World, Brill (Boston, MA), 2002.
Dictionary of Literary Biography, Thomson Gale (Detroit, MI), Volume 6: American Novelists since World War II, 1980, Volume 28: Twentieth-Century American-Jewish Fiction Writers, 1984, Volume 52: American Writers for Children since 1960: Fiction, 1986.
Dictionary of Literary Biography Yearbook 1991, Thomson Gale (Detroit, MI), 1992.
Farrell, Grace, editor, Critical Essays on Isaac Bashevis Singer, Hall (New York, NY), 1996.
Farrell Lee, Grace, From Exile to Redemption: The Fiction of Isaac Bashevis Singer, Southern Illinois University Press (Carbondale, IL), 1987.
Gibbons, Frances Vargas, Transgression and Self-Punishment in Isaac Bashevis Singer's Searches, Lang (New York, NY), 1995.
Goran, Lester, The Bright Streets of Surfside: The Memoir of a Friendship with Isaac Bashevis Singer, Kent State University Press (Kent, OH), 1994.
Hadda, Janet, Isaac Bashevis Singer: A Life, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 1997.
Kazin, Alfred, Bright Book of Life: American Novelists and Storytellers from Hemingway to Mailer, Atlantic Monthly Press (Boston, MA), 1973.
Kresh, Paul, Isaac Bashevis Singer: The Magician of West 86th Street, Dial (New York, NY), 1979.
Madison, Charles A., Yiddish Literature: Its Scope and Major Writers, Ungar (New York, NY), 1968.
Malin, Irving, editor, Critical Views of Isaac Bashevis Singer, New York University Press (New York, NY), 1969.
Malin, Irving, Isaac Bashevis Singer, Ungar (New York, NY), 1972.
Pearl, Lila, Isaac Bashevis Singer: The Life of a Storyteller, illustrated by Donna Ruff, Jewish Publication Society (Philadelphia, PA), 1994.
Pinsker, Sanford, The Schlemiel as Metaphor: Studies in the Yiddish and American Jewish Novel, Southern Illinois University Press (Carbondale, IL), 1971.
Ran-Moseley, Fay, The Tragicomic Passion: A History and Analysis of Tragicomedy and Tragicomic Characterization in Drama, Film, and Literature, Lang (New York, NY), 1994.
St. James Guide to Children's Writers, 5th edition, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 1999.
Short Story Criticism, Volume 3, Thomson Gale (Detroit, MI), 1989.
Siegel, Ben, Isaac Bashevis Singer, University of Minnesota Press (Minneapolis, MN), 1969.
Singer, Isaac Bashevis, Nobel Lecture, Farrar, Straus (New York, NY), 1979.
Stavans, Ilan, editor, Isaac Bashevis Singer: An Album, Library of America (New York, NY), 2004.
Telushkin, Dvorah, Master of Dreams: A Memoir of Isaac Bashevis Singer, Morrow (New York, NY), 1997.
Tuszyanska, Agata, Lost Landscapes: In Search of Isaac Bashevis Singer and the Jews of Poland, translated from the Polish by Madeline G. Levine, Morrow (New York, NY), 1998.
Wirth-Nesher, Hana, City Codes: Reading the Modern Urban Novel, Cambridge University Press (New York, NY), 1996.
Zamir, Israel, and Barbara Harshav, Journey to My Father, Isaac Bashevis Singer, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 1995.
American Spectator, September, 1985, Anita Susan Grossman, review of The Image and Other Stories, pp. 43-44.
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Book World, October 29, 1967; March 3, 1968; September 1, 1968; November 25, 1979.
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Chicago Tribune Book World, July 12, 1981; March 21, 1982; November 6, 1983; July 21, 1985.
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Contemporary Literature, winter, 1969; summer, 1969, Cyrene N. Pondrom, interview with Singer.
Critical Quarterly, spring, 1976, David Seed, "The Fiction of Isaac Bashevis Singer," pp. 73-79.
Criticism, fall, 1963.
Critique, Volume 11, number 2, 1969, Linda G. Zatlin, "The Themes of Isaac Bashevis Singer's Short Fiction," pp. 40-46; Volume 14, number 2, 1972.
Detroit Free Press, July 25, 1991.
Globe & Mail (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), May 3, 1980; November 23, 1985; June 13, 1988.
Harper's, October, 1965; September, 1978, Paul Ber-man, review of Shosha, p. 94.
Horn Book, September-October, 1991, p. 654.
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Judaism, fall, 1962, J.A. Eisenberg, "Isaac Bashevis Singer: Passionate Primitive or Pious Puritan?," pp. 345-356; winter, 1974; spring, 1977, Nili Wachtel, "Freedom and Slavery in the Fiction of Isaac Bashevis Singer," pp. 171-186; winter, 1979, Edward Alexander, "The Nobel Prize for I.B. Singer," pp. 8-13.
Kenyon Review, spring, 1964.
Library Journal, March 1, 1994, p. 120; August, 1999, Melody A. Moxley, p. 163.
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Nation, November 2, 1970, Dan Isaac, "The World of Jewish Gothic," pp. 438-440; November 19, 1973, Seymour Kleinberg, "The Last to Speak That Tongue," pp. 538-539; November 19, 1983.
New Leader, June 27, 1988, David Evanier, review of The Death of Methuselah, and Other Stories, p. 20.
New Republic, November 24, 1958; January 2, 1961; November 13, 1961, Irving Howe, "Stories: New, Old, and Sometimes Good," pp. 18-19, 22-23; June 18, 1962; November 3, 1973, Crawford Woods, "Worlds beyond Ours," pp. 28-29; October 25, 1975; September 16, 1978, Robert Alter, review of Shosha, pp. 20-22; October 21, 1978.
New Review, June, 1976, Julia O'Faolain, review of Passions and Other Stories, pp. 59-60.
New Statesman, September 13, 1974, Peter Straub, review of A Crown of Feathers, p. 355; April 19, 1985, Anne Smith, "Holy Fool," p. 30.
New Statesman & Society, July 14, 1989, Sean French, "Singer's Gods," pp. 42-43; October 18, 1991, p. 39.
Newsweek, June 26, 1972, Walter Clemons, "Herman's Three Wives," p. 86; November 12, 1973, Peter S. Prescott, "The Dance of Life," pp. 113-114; April 12, 1982; September 26, 1983; August 5, 1991.
New York, December 31, 1979.
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New York Times, October 30, 1966; January 29, 1967; July 10, 1978; July 22, 1978; December 9, 1978; October 17, 1979; December 5, 1979; December 16, 1979; December 17, 1979; April 19, 1980; June 15, 1982; November 30, 1982; September 22, 1983; October 7, 1984; November 7, 1984; June 25, 1985, John Gross, review of The Image and Other Stories, pp. 43-44; October 30, 1985; November 17, 1985; June 24, 1986; September 28, 1986; November 8, 1986; July 6, 1987; April 12, 1988; May 18, 1989; July 30, 1989; December 10, 1989; December 13, 1989; April 9, 1991, Michiko Kakutani, "Trapped in a Somber Dialectic of Faith and Flesh," p. C14; July 26, 1991; May 30, 1996, p. B3; May 30, 1996, p. C13.
New York Times Book Review, December 29, 1957; June 26, 1960; October 22, 1961; June 17, 1962, Milton Hindus, "An Upright Man on an Eternal Landscape," p. 4; November 15, 1964; October 8, 1967, Hugh Nissenson, review of The Fearsome Inn, p. 38; February 1, 1970, Richard M. Elman, review of A Day of Pleasure, p. 30; June 25, 1972, Lore Dickstein, review of Enemies: A Love Story, pp. 4-5, 10; November 4, 1973; November 2, 1975; April 30, 1978, Andrew Bergman, review of A Young Man in Search of Love, p. 59; July 23, 1978; October 28, 1979; January 18, 1981; June 21, 1981, Mark Harris, "A Storyteller's Story," pp. 7, 28-29; January 31, 1982; March 21, 1982; November 14, 1982; September 25, 1983; November 11, 1984; June 30, 1985; October 27, 1985; October 16, 1988, Ewa Kuryluk, "Nightmares of the Poles and Lesniks," pp. 12-13; March 24, 1991, Bette Pesetsky, "Looking for Love on Krochmaina Street," p. 7; November 1, 1992, Lore Dickstein, "An Account Book Full of Humiliations," p. 7; April 10, 1994, Joel Conarroe, "'The World Is One Vast Madhouse,'" p. 9; January 25, 1998, Lee Siegel, "West Side Story"; December 24, 2000, Jonathan Rosen, "A World Triply Lost."
Paris Review, fall, 1968.
Publishers Weekly, February 18, 1983, interview with Singer; September 18, 2000, review of More Stories from My Father's Court, p. 93.
San Francisco Review of Books, Summer, 1991, pp. 15-16.
Saturday Review, January 25, 1958; November 25, 1961; June 16, 1962; November 21, 1964; September 19, 1970, Curt Leviant, review of A Friend of Kafka, pp. 36-37, 46; July 22, 1972; July 8, 1978, Edward Hirsch, review of A Young Man in Search of Love and Shosha, pp. 34-35.
School Library Journal, September, 1991; June, 1996, p. 124.
Sewanee Review, fall, 1974, William Peden, review of A Crown of Feathers, pp. 718-719.
Southern Review, spring, 1972; spring, 1973, Jay L. Halio, review of A Friend of Kafka, pp. 466-467.
Spectator, October 17, 1958; September 15, 1961; May 11, 1962; June 10, 1966, John Daniel, review of The Family Moskat, p. 734.
Studies in Short Fiction, summer, 1974, John Lawrence Abbott, review of A Crown of Feathers, pp. 311-312; fall, 1976, Timothy Evans, review of Passions, and Other Stories, pp. 528-529.
Tikkun, September-October, 1994, p. 79.
Time, October 20, 1967; September 21, 1970, Stefan Kanfer, "Sammler's Planetarians," p. 101; October 27, 1975, Stefan Kanfer, "Fiddler," pp. 78, 80; November 3, 1975; June 15, 1981; April 5, 1982; October 17, 1983; October 28, 1984; July 15, 1985;May 2, 1988; March 25, 1991, p. 70; August 5, 1991.
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Tribune Books (Chicago), April 10, 1988; November 6, 1988; June 7, 1992, p. 2; November 1, 1992, p. 6; May 8, 1994, p. 5.
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Washington Post Book World, November 30, 1980; June 28, 1981, Helen Epstein, "Isaac Singer in Pursuit of Love and Literature," p. 4; March 28, 1982 (inter view); November 7, 1982; July 7, 1985; September 21, 1986; October 23, 1988; March 3, 1991, Jonathan Yardley, "The Ills of the Flesh," p. 3; April 3, 1994, p. 9; January 25, 1998, Franklin Foer, "Survivors and Café Philosophers," p. 8.
World Literature Today, spring, 1979, Lothar Kahn, "The Talent of I.B. Singer, 1978 Nobel Laureate for Literature," pp. 197-201; autumn, 1988, Lothar Kahn, review of The Death of Methuselah and Other Stories, pp. 675-676; summer, 1998, Rita D. Jacobs, review of Shadows on the Hudson, p. 646; summer-autumn, 2001, James Knudsen, review of More Stories from My Father's Court, p. 200.
Books and Writers, http://www.kirjasto.sci.fi/ (August 15, 2004), "Isaac Bashevis Singer."
Nobel e-Museum, http://www.nobel.se/ (August 15, 2004), "Isaac Bashevis Singer."
Singer Centennial Web site, http://www.ibsinger100.org/ (August 15, 2004).