THE ASSISTANT by Bernard Malamud

THE ASSISTANT by Bernard Malamud (hier online bestellen)

The story:
Suffering and endurance are central themes within the novel. It is through suffering Malamud believes human beings may develop morally, which also is being underlined by religion . Allusions to Dostoyevski further illustrate that through suffering, redemption can be achieved. Also, the novel seems to be inspired by the story of Job, which is carried mostly by the issues of suffering, redemption, atonement, temptation, trial, hope, questioning and deliverance. Frank then learns to link suffering and love. The important aspect is to take this uncomfortable but unavoidable condition of life and turn it into something positive, but into something morally. So Morris adds, "I suffer for you".

Failure is another critical issue - the central irony lies in the fact that Morris considers himself a failure. He wishes that America were the sort of place where morality could lead to practical success. But where Morris fails is just the secular world --- his Jewishness and his morality remain intact, thanks also to Frank. The values of Jewishness and modern America are contrasted against each other. It is shown that honesty and integrity do not lead to success in America, where money confers a status beyond material wealth. Even those close to him see him as a failure in a certain respect because he must live a lesser life in material terms.

Jewishness is being defined in a broader way, deprived of all external traditions it is being reduced to its religious and ethical core. Morris does value the Jewish Law, the Law of God, while the secular law, which others would adore, makes people like Karp and Nat Pearl spiritually and morally empty, and it destroys people like Ward Minogue.

The issue which is recurring throughout the entire book is that of imprisonment in this little grocery store. But instead of fleeing it, Frank remains in this prison, having realized that imprisonment is necessary if he is to achieve his moral and spiritual ambitions.

Morris is a victim of society because he doesn't agree about systems of power, instead he lives for charity and brotherly love.

About the author:
Bernard Malamud (1914-1986), American novelist and short-story writer, was born in Brooklyn, N.Y., and educated at the City College of New York and Columbia University. From 1961 he taught at Bennington College. Although his first novel, The Natural (1952), is a fantasy about a star baseball player, most of Malamud's writing - as in his second novel, The Assistant (1957) - is concerned with Jewish themes and reflects the sad, impoverished Brooklyn scenes of his childhood. The Fixer (1966), for which Malamud received a Pulitzer Prize, is a poignant novel (based on a true story) of the suffering of a Russian Jewish workman sentenced unjustly to prison; it is thus an allegory of the Holocaust. Like The Tenants (1971), which deals with inner-city tensions, it demonstrates how human beings can come through suffering to an affirmative view of life. Later novels are Dubin's Lives (1979), about a writer of biographies, and God's Grace (1982).

Excerpt from book:
"What kind of a man did you have to be born to shut yourself up in an overgrown coffin and never once during the day, so help you, outside of going for your Yiddish newspaper, poke your beak out of the door for say a snootful of air? The answer wasn't hard to say --- you had to be a Jew. They were born prisoners. That was what Morris was, with his deadly patience, or endurance, or whatever the hell it was".

Sprache: Englisch
Broschiert - 246 Seiten - Farrar Straus Giroux
Erscheinungsdatum: Juli 2003
ISBN: 0374504849
Preis: € 12,50

More works from the same author:

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The Natural
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The Magic Barrel
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The Fixer
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The Complete Stories
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Conversations with Bernard Malamud

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