Synopses & Reviews
To mark the centennial of the birth of Isaac Bashevis Singer, The Library of America presents Collected Stories, a major celebration of Singer's achievement. Beginning with Gimpel the Fool, whose title story brought Singer to sudden prominence in America when translated by Saul Bellow in 1953, and concluding with The Death of Methuselah, the collection published three years before his death in 1991, this three-volume edition brings together for the first time all the story collections Singer published in English in the versions he called his "second originals"--translations he supervised and collaborated on, revising as he worked. In addition, Collected Stories includes previously uncollected or unpublished stories from his manuscripts in the Ransom Center collections, providing a rare glimpse into the workshop of a literary genius. Here are nearly 200 stories--the full range of Singer's vision--encompassing Old World shtetl and New World exile. Born in Poland in 1904 into a family of rabbis, Singer was raised in a traditional culture that perished at the hands of the Nazis during the Second World War, and his haunting stories testify to the richness of that vanished world. Singer's Old World tales reveal a wild, mischievous, often disturbing supernaturalism evocative of local storytelling traditions. After his immigration to America, Singer's stories increasingly explore the daily lived reality and imaginative boundaries of Jewish culture as it was transplanted to the United States, revealing him to be the emblematic immigrant American writer, a writer whose vision and insights enlarged our idea of what it is to be an American.
"To present the irrational in the clearest and most disciplined of styles is one of the aims of this great short story writer. And more and more Singer shows us the irrational in a modern context whose meaning is shadowed and deepened, of course, by the East European background of many of his characters. Thus Singer, like Nabokov, is a great spanner of wildly different cultures—and this makes him very modern and very American. He is also a survivor in a savage age who never renounces the boon and burden of life." Reviewed by d T. Gies, Virginia Quarterly Review (Copyright 2006 Virginia Quarterly Review)
About the Author
Isaac Bashevis Singer
emigrated to New York from Poland in 1935 and found work with the Jewish Daily Forward. Author of many novels, collections of short stories, and books for children, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1978.
Ilan Stavans is Lewis-Sebring Professor in Latin American and Latino Culture at Amherst College and the author or editor of numerous books.