Synopses & Reviews
The orthodox rabbi Heshel Melamed's sudden death by heart attack in 1919 set his widow and children free to leave Lithuania, the country that he insisted be their home. In light of the Holocaust twenty years later, his death became, ironically, a gift of life: Heshel Melamed's family left Europe before the war and settled safely in South Africa.
In Heshel's Kingdom, Dan Jacobson recounts his journey in the 1990s to post-Communist Lithuania where he searched for traces of his grandfather Heshel's world. More than a genealogical narrative, however, this deeply personal memoir becomes at times a philosophical tableau of secularism, religion, family, and modern Judaism. Jacobson meditates on his grandfather, communes with history's darkness -- and, where possible, its illumination -- and attempts to understand the individual mortal soul's reflection in human kinship.
"Dan Jacobson's Heshel's Kingdom
is a marvelously sensitive, observant, scrupulously honest and intensely autobiographical account [of a journey]."
--Times Literary Supplement
"A seamless and tautly written narrative. . . . What we are finally left with is neither a history lesson nor a neatly unfolding drama but simply--not so very simply--an experience which has been lived through, more fully understood than it could ever have been from the outside, and transmuted, thanks to the quality of the writing, into a work of art."
The Orthodox rabbi Heshel Melamed's sudden death by heart attack in 1919 set his widow and children free to leave Lithuania. In this deeply personal memoir, his grandson journeys to the nation after the fall of Communism, and his story is both a philosophical tableau of secularism, religion, and family and a communion with history's darkness-and, where possible, its illumination.
Includes bibliographical references (p. 236-).
About the Author
Jacobson grew up in Kimberley, South Africa, but has lived in London for most of his adult life. He is a Professor Emeritus in English at University College, London.
Table of Contents
Part One: Lithuania
Part Two: South Africa
Part Three: Lithuania
Part Four: Now
Part Five: Never
References and Notes