CALL IT SLEEP by Henry Roth (hier online bestellen)
Call it Sleep is really a profound psychological study of the main character, David Schearl. He is
at once a sensitive child and some kind of a mystic in search of divine illumination. The novel takes
the reader trough an agonizing two-year period in the life of young David; from his sixth to his
eighth year. He relives for us the world of his daily experiences and this is a world beset by
unrelenting fears and recurrent attacks of guilt. David seems to have a strong need to belong but
he is withdrawn into the terrifying confines of his own (painfully) vivid imagination. He is
alienated from his roots; rejected by his father and petrified by the normal sexual experiences
of childhood, his father's seething violence, the prospect of retribution for his guilt
(both real and imagined), the largeness and chaos of his physical world and above all . . . the dark.
It is the dark that comes to symbolize all that is ugly and intolerable in David's experience. The
dark is all that threatens him and all from which he seeks to escape. Naturally enough, light is
David's salvation. It is an expanding symbol that characterizes -in the boy's mind and in the
reader's- everything that is redemptive and everything that offers escape from the torments of
darkness. "Most significantly it is the light of God in a variety of transforming manifestations,
the source of purification, redemption and salvation."
About the author:
Henry Roth was born in Tysmenica, Galicia, Austria-Hungary. His father was a waiter. Roth moved in 1907
with his mother to New York, where his father was already living. From 1908 to 1910 Roth's Yiddish- speaking
family lived in the Brownsville section of Brooklyn and in 1910 they moved to the Lower East Side, "a virtual
Jewish mini-state", as Roth later noted, and four years later to Harlem, an Irish and Italian neighborhood.
Roth graduated from the City College of New York.
In 1934, when Henry Roth's Call It Sleep came to light, this
book was seen as a social commentary on the period of the Eastern European immigration to America and,
particularly, to the lower East Side. Because of this typecasting, Call It Sleep enjoyed a very brief
tenure in the literary spotlight, but when the "social
concerns era" came to an end, the book dropped out of sight. Noticed again by the literary critic, Leslie
Fiedler, in a 1960 piece entitled "Henry Roth's Neglected Masterpiece," the book was revivified, and Henry
Roth, who had become a chicken farmer in Maine, finally became aware of his own genius and his contribution
to the world - namely, the most important work of American and Jewish literature to be published in the
Never has a book in American-Jewish literature better expressed the linguistic difficulty of the immigrant,
who, fluent and educated in Yiddish, had to negotiate the streets of New York (which were not paved with
gold) in a broken and halting English. The pathos and depression of Albert Schearl's life, who eeks out a
living by driving a horse-drawn milk truck, is set in brilliant contrast to his son, who despite his
anxieties, seeks enlightenment and stimulation in a way that may best be described as "religiously poetic."
David typifies the immigrant generation in his attempt to emerge from the trauma of his familial and social
environment. But this tome does not repeat the theme of Abraham Cahan's The Rise of David Levinsky. This
book is about the inner struggle, and it is this grappling with life, seen through the eyes of a remarkably
perceptive and prophetic child, that illuminates the pages of this novel like none other.
Extract from book:
He left the stoop, turned west. The Chinese laundry was near the corner of Tenth Street and Avenue C. He
walked slowly, idly, aware but no longer overcome or even troubled by the movement of vehicles and people.
He knew his world now. With a kind of meditative assurance, he singled out the elements of the ever-present
din - the far voices, the near, the bells of a junk wagon, the sing-song cry of the I-Cash-clothes man,
waving his truncheon-newspaper, the sloshing jangle of the keys on the huge ring on the back of the tinker.
There was more blue in the air of afternoons now ; the air was brisker, fixing houses in a cold, sunless,
brittle light. He looked up. They were both gone - the two cages on the first floor fire-escape. A parrot
and a canary. Awk! awk! the first cried. Eee - tee - tee - tweet! the other. A smooth and a rusty pulley.
He wondered if they understood each other. Maybe it was like Yiddish and English, or Yiddish and Polish,
the way his mother and aunt sometimes spoke. Secrets. What? Was wondering. What? Too cold now. Birds go
south, teacher said. But pigeons don't. Sparrows don't. So how? Funny, birds were. In the park on
Avenue C. Eat brown. Shit green. On the benches is green. On the railings. So how? Don't you? Apples is
red and white. Chicken is white. Bread, watermelon, gum-drops, all different colours. But - Don't say.
Is bad. But everybody says. Is bad though ... And he drifted on towards the corner drug-store, glanced
at the red and green mysterious fluid in the glass vases and turned right.
CALL IT SLEEP
Broschiert - 448 Seiten - Penguin Books Ltd
Preis: € ?????
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