Philip Roth has said that Aharon Appelfeld is "a dislocated writer, a deported writer, a dispossessed and uprooted writer . . . a displaced writer of displaced fiction, who has made of displacement and disorientation a subject uniquely his own." In Beyond Despair, the first collection of essays by the celebrated Israeli novelist, Appelfeld locates ...Read MorePhilip Roth has said that Aharon Appelfeld is "a dislocated writer, a deported writer, a dispossessed and uprooted writer . . . a displaced writer of displaced fiction, who has made of displacement and disorientation a subject uniquely his own." In Beyond Despair, the first collection of essays by the celebrated Israeli novelist, Appelfeld locates the roots of his displacement. "Who and what is a Jew?" asks Appelfeld, who belongs to the generation whose youth was lost in the Holocaust. In search of an answer, he examines the emotional and psychic aftereffects of the Holocaust. For his generation, assimilation was no longer a goal - it had become a heritage and a way of life. As a consequence, through the Holocaust the Jews were confronted with the disintegration of their belief systems; the near-extinction of the Jewish people inflicted not only physical and emotional pain but also spiritual suffering. The inability to express the horrors of the Holocaust, combined with guilt feelings of the survivors, led to silence. Appelfeld explores the role of art in redeeming pain from darkness, and the conflicting desires to speak out and to keep silent. He forcefully argues that the Jewish people need a spiritual vision. In his conversation with Philip Roth, Appelfeld sheds light on his work and talks with candor about his life, influences, and concerns.Read Less
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Publishers Weekly, 1993-12-13 In three short, cogent lectures, originally delivered at Columbia University in 1991, eminent Israeli novelist Appelfeld analyzes with great sensitivity the psychology of Holocaust survivors. Many, he writes, suppressed their memories of their ordeal for years, in silent protest against suffering and fate. In some survivors, self-blame, rage and anguish coexisted, often directed outward in practical activity. Appelfeld is reticent about his own Holocaust experience. Born in Bukovina (now part of Romania), he was deported to a Nazi work camp when the war broke out. Escaping, he hid for years in forests, then wandered across the ruins of Europe, arriving in Palestine in 1946 at the age of 14; both his parents were victims of the Nazis. These horrors tested but did not destroy his religious faith, he reveals. Also included is a 1988 interview with Philip Roth in which Appelfeld discusses Kafka, Hebrew, life in Israel and the relationship between his parable-like novels and historical reality. (Jan.)
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