Out of the Depths Paperback – Jan 1992
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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.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
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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