Singer’s Last Word
- Scum by Isaac Bashevis Singer, translated by Rosaline Dukalsky Schwartz
Cape, 224 pp, £13.99, October 1991, ISBN 0 224 03200 3
A story no doubt originating in Norway goes over the ground about persons of different nationality required to write an essay on elephants. The Englishman of course writes about hunting them, the French about their love-life, the Swede about elephantine manners and etiquette, the Dane about the ivory business. The Norwegian produces an essay on Norway and Norwegians. A laborious jest with many permutations, but it serves to show that a people likes to think that while other countries have their own characteristics they have what really matters – themselves. And for a people to write about itself can be both inspiration and good business.