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Out of the Depths [Paperback]

Joseph Brenner , David Patterson


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 101 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Canada / Westview S/Dis (Jan. 20 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0813314275
  • ISBN-13: 978-0813314273
  • Product Dimensions: 21.4 x 14.9 x 1.9 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 358 g

Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

As Patterson, president of the Oxford Centre for Postgraduate Hebrew Studies, explains in an illuminating introduction, Brenner (1881-1921), whose pivotal novel Breakdown and Bereavement appeared in English translation 50 years after his death, was nonetheless a major figure in early-20th-century Hebrew literature; this addition to his works in English translation is long overdue. First published in a Hebrew-language Viennese periodical in 1908-1909, Out of the Depths is based on Brenner's harsh experiences among a group of Russian Jewish emigres who toiled at a Yiddish daily newspaper in London. Employing the literary techniques of stream of consciousness, fragmentation, shifting perspectives, emotive punctuation and the infusion of Yiddish, Russian, German and English words, Brenner made substantial inroads into modern Hebrew prose as he indicted the moral bankruptcy of Diaspora Jewish life. Brenner's ruthless portraits of contemptuous Jewish trade-unionists and of the miserable environs of the newly arrived are tempered by a ray of hope in the form of Abraham Menuhin, an immigrant Jew who plays the hero for another immigrant Jew impregnated and abandoned by a Russian gentile.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Book Description

Employing an ancient language in a modern idiomatic style, this little-known work gives expression to the social upheavals and the moral questioning of life in the early 1900s. It involves Russian immigrants in London. The author was a central figure in early 20th century Hebrew literature.

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Amazon.com: 3.5 out of 5 stars  2 reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Hebrew Modernism May 18 2007
By Eric Maroney - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
It is a pity that not more of Joseph Chaim Brenner's works are translated into English (there is this work, Out of the Depths, and a novel, Breakdown and Bereavement, and some short stories in various anthologies). For not only is Brenner an important figure in Hebrew literature, he is also a modernist of high caliber, capable of being compared to Joyce or Proust. Quite simply, Brenner inhabited a world in transition, in a language which was being revived and enriched by the modern scene. Out of the Depths shows the level of commitment which Brenner had to the cause of literary modernism. This novella is a pastiche of styles; the narrative is broken apart and put back together again. There are journal entries and first person narration and third person perspective. The characters have the hypersensitivity we would expect in early modernists. Every thought, idea, or fleeting feeling is on the table top of examination. Nothing is taken for granted any more since every idea is open to new interpretation. This gives this work an edgy, exhausted feel, as if the entire world was about to implode. An old world is dead but a new world has not yet fully arisen to replace it.
3.0 out of 5 stars More than Historically Significant May 12 2000
By Piotr Szymczak - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Although its title alludes to a psalm of lamentation, this book (first published in 1908-09) is a secular product. Set in early 20th century London, it has all the familiar motifs of "engaged" Jewish writing: starving workers exploited by corpulent capitalists, former revolutionaries in search of an identity, failed strikes--the classic pained world of Jewish emmigration.
Brenner's novel excels, however, similar creations (e.g. Leivick's "Shop") on a number of counts: it was fortunate to find a top-class tranlator (Webber Prize 1989), and in itself it employs an interesting variety of literary techniques (journal, stream of consciousness, a certain drama-like quality when the narrator disappears for long spells, and some powerful albeit feverish storytelling when he checks back in). The novel goes beyond the usual socio-economic agit-prop of the time: Brenner, something of a celebrity in the Hebrew literature of the day, is more focused on ethical issues, with his compelling insistence on heroic responsibility for one's actions and compassion for others.
With its decent plot-weaving and some good comical sketches, this is a thoroughly readable book.

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