Sperber, Manès

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SPERBER, MANÈS (1905–1984), French author and editor. Born in Zablotov, Eastern Galicia, Sperber spent much of his youth in Vienna, where he was prominent in the *Ha-Shomer ha-Ẓa'ir Zionist youth movement. He was assistant to the psychologist Alfred *Adler, whose life and work Sperber discussed in a study published in 1926. From 1927 to 1933 he taught psychology in Berlin and founded a psychological review. For some years he was an active communist, but finally left the party in 1937. After the Nazis came to power in Germany, he escaped to France. Later he became a director of the important French publishing house of Calmann-Lévy and turned to literature, first writing in German and later in French.

His main works were Et le Buisson Devint Cendre (1944; The Burned Bramble, 1951); Plus Profond que l'abîme (1949; The Abyss, 1952); La Baie Perdue (1952; Journey Without End, 1954), an epic of the underground; the essay Le Talon d'Achille (1957; The Achilles Heel, 1959); and Man and His Deeds (1970), an alternative to the politics of the present. Like Arthur *Koestler, he depicts the moral collapse of the revolutionary edifice and the disillusionment of its architects. He parts company with Koestler when he propounds a positive attitude to Jewishness and is deeply immersed in Jewish culture. This is particularly noticeable in the story "Qu'une larme dans l'ocẹan," which forms part of La Baie Perdue. Here the novelist sets forth the eternal spiritual resistance of the Jews. In his preface to the book, André Malraux (d. 1976) eulogized it as "one of the Jewish people's greatest stories."


C. Lehrmann, L'Elément Juif dans la Littérature Française, 2 (1961), 178–83; G.L. Mosse, in: New York Times (Nov. 11, 1970).

[Arnold Mandel]