The Slave by Isaac Bashevis Singer

 

Translated from the Yiddish by the author and Cecil Hemley

Description: Four years after the Chmielnicki massacres of the seventeenth century, Jacob, a slave and cowherd in a Polish village high in the mountains, falls in love with Wanda, his master’s daughter. Even after he is ransomed, he finds he can’t live without her, and the two escape together to a distant Jewish community. Racked by his consciousness of sin in taking a Gentile wife and by the difficulties of concealing her identity, Jacob nonetheless stands firm as the violence of the era threatens to destroy the ill-fated couple.

Opening: A single bird call began the day. Each day the same bird, the same call.

An unusual love story, yet one, thankfully, that doesn’t hover on sentimental hogwash. If you love bizarre superstitions including succubi, vampires, Dizwosina and Skrots, then this may just be the book for you.

Drowning Baba Yaga.

Thoroughly disconcerted as to why Poland has willingly returned to media censorship after they fought so hard to slough off the yoke, I go searching for answers in past fiction, well, ‘pointers’ to be more exact. I read Turkish literature for the same reason, why, after Atatürk’s splendid ideals, are there Islamists in government there. So many questions to ponder over, so little time.

Chmielnicki: the Cossack-Polish War 1648-1657: mass atrocities committed by Cossacks against civilian population, especially against the Roman Catholic clergy and the Jews. Relevent to today’s world is thisbit snaffled from wiki: it [this war] led to the eventual incorporation of eastern Ukraine into the Tsardom of Russia.

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