By Leonard Unger

ISBN-10: 0684136767

ISBN-13: 9780684136769

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Recurrent pogroms made urgent the Biblical dictum to be fruitful and multiply. Singer neither champions nor condemns man's physical cravings. He simply makes it clear that his Jews (especially the Hasidim, who stress joy, song, and dance) retain enough vigor after life's demands to satisfy fleshly yearnings—despite beard, earlock, or matron's wig. Never condoning license, he points repeatedly to the dangers implicit in excessive yielding to passion. Such excess is socially and emotionally dangerous, rendering man vulnerable and punishment inevitable.

Realism and fantasy are not for Singer mutually exclusive categories but only, as he puts it, "two sides of the same coin. " Whereas The Family Moskat has been undervalued, Satan in Goray has been overpraised. Written in 1932, the latter launched its twenty-eight-year-old author's "black-mirror" concern with Satan. A miracleand-cabala narrative indebted to Yiddish gothics like S. Ansky's The Dybbuk and H. Leivick's The Golem, Satan in Goray is less novel than loosely linked vignettes. Singer here probes deeply the Jewish Messianic dream and the moral gap between the ideal and real.

Shouting God Himself is "a slaughterer . . 20 / AMERICAN WRITERS and the whole world . . a slaughterhouse," Yoineh Meir plunges into madness and the river. The community has little time to grieve; a new slaughterer must be summoned for the holidays. Yoineh Meir may find even death lacks repose. Certainly none is exhibited by the deceased in "The Dead Fiddler," a long tale of twists, turns, and wild, sad humor.

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AMERICAN WRITERS, Volume 4 by Leonard Unger

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