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3.8 out of 5 stars23
3.8 out of 5 stars
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on July 18, 2004
richler's work is, though spiced with ample dose of humour, is a painful portrayal of the ruthless nature of human ambitions. the young jewish,motherless urchin, duddy has only one goal before him, to emulate 'jerry dingleman'-the boywonder of st.urbain, montreal.duddy takes a materialist interpretation of his zeyda's profound words of wisdom, "a man without land is nobody.' this fires duddy, to embark on scheme after scheme, to pursue his goal of possessing a lake and the land surrounding it. for that he is shameless enough to forge the signature of epileptic friend and to crush the love of yvette, the all-giving french-canadian girl friend. duddy doesn't believe in gew-gentile relationship either, after seeing how his doctor-brother was harrassed and hounded by the gentile circle. he is the jewish-avtar of nietzschen neo-man , one who is devoid of feelings like love and shame. duddy hardly bothers about the fate of ladders which he use to climb. unfortunately,for him, the end is important ; not human relationships, outside his family.
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If you're looking for overlapping plots and literary pyrotechnics, you might want to try Richler's fiction after 1980 (i.e. Joshua Then and Now, Solomon Gursky Was Here, and Barney's Version), but for humour and a comparatively linear story, you can't do better than Duddy Kravitz, the novel that first made Richler famous. The story is clever: Duddy, marginalized and impoverished, working-class and academically challenged, with no mother and a "dope" for a father, graduates from high school without any prospects except slaving in his uncle Benjy's garment factory. However, while working as a waiter at a countryside resort he happens upon a lake and decides to buy it to have it developed. This is Duddy's ticket out of poverty and obscurity. With everyone against him, you can't help but root for him. But when it becomes clear that Duddy will do anything to achieve his dream, the question becomes: do you still support him and why? This is essentially a morality play back-dropped by absurdity and treachery. In between the laughs, it raises questions about social class, racism, and capitalism. It remains a Canadian classic.

Troy Parfitt is the author of War Torn: Adventures in the Brave New Canada.
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on March 11, 1999
OK here's the deal. Duddy is not a good guy but the reader loves him because he is a human being and if he turns out sour and crazy it is only becasue those more fortunate than he have taken advantage of him. Duddy responds to the cards that society hands out by playing them as best he can. Richler is an incredible writer. His characters and dialogue have so much richness, so much reality. This is a book about Montreal and all the politics and culture-clash that occur between its upper-class Jews and Gentile and the lower class Jews and Gentiles. The old Jews and the young Jews, the college kids and the working kids. The French canadians and the anglo-phones, etc. There are very few women in this book, but Duddy has a very small field of vision when it comes to women, so the POV is true to the character. I love this book.
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on September 19, 2001
Duddy Kravitz grew up on the wrong side of town to most Montrealers. His neighbourhood was poor, but not abject. It had a marvellous immigrant-village life that the writer transmits to us. "The Apprenticeship..." is hilarious and painfully honest as it portrays the 1940s Montreal Jewish community. You will meet them, warts and all. I first read this as a sensitive teen and I was appalled by what a flawed person Duddy finally grew into. The author is a master of dialect and lucid description. His subsequent books have also been funny, but formulaic. Duddy Kravitz is the apotheosis of Mordecai Richler's talent.
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on March 6, 2002
It was my New Years Resolution to read more "literature" especially by Canadian authors. I am ashamed to say that I have managed to get this far through life without reading anything by this someone who is widely regarded as one of Canada's greatest man of letters.
This is Richler's cautionary tale about the evils of greed and unrestrained ambition. This topic has been explored by a countless other writers but seldom with as much skill as that displayed by Mr. Richler.
The main character is both repugnant and fascinating to watch. I can't recommend this enough.
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on June 11, 2000
Duddy Kravitz is a unique hero. He's an industrious young man searching for land, for wealth, really for his own identity. But in his quest he burns the people closest to him. Though he gains what he wants, he loses what is truly most dearest.
The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz is quite simply a classic.
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on August 19, 2012
A great read, his life is like a monopoly! Read and enjoy this book as it takes you back to a really cool era in Canadian living.
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on January 22, 2015
Nice book.
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