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Stumbling Into Modernity: Isaac Bashevis Singers Cling to Tradition takes an admiring, yet critical look at a body of literature that reflects a crossover, not only geographic, with immigration from Poland, but from traditional, tribal values treasured in the Jewish provinces of Europe and then questioned in the new, modern world of America. While this study seeks a place in the modern canon for Singers work through an appreciation of his achievements, it wrestles with his limitations in continually attempting to reconcile his past with choices available in the present.Singer lived from 1902–1991, and his writing documents the turmoil of the planet in violent transition. But here was a writer who, throughout the 20th century, cobbled together the folk tales of his youth, steeped in moral tales, with an engagement in intellectual evolutions and the secular pleasures of the cosmopolis.The book is imbued with purpose in questioning authority, offering substantive arguments to deflate the ruling order – particularly in the guise of parental rule and male privilege – with which Singer struggled and was, ultimately, entangled. A liberation theme runs throughout the book, paralleling Singers long-running struggle to replace God with free will. As Singer attempts to extricate himself from the dogma and strictures of his father and to find his place in an ever-changing world, this author follows along to celebrate his nourishing stories, novels and memoirs, but also, with a thorough reading in critical analysis, to critique Singers responses. A persuasive argument is presented, I believe, when Singers work is compared to that of his sister, Esther Kreitman. While describing a similar scenario, the two are loaded with disparites – Kreitmans narrative offering evidence of the female viewpoint her brother fails to comprehend.There is a new generation of readers ready to be exposed to the work of this man.
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