Isaac Bashevis Singer

Isaac Bashevis Singer account, in this issue, of his departure from Poland and journey across Europe in 1935 forms part of a volume of memoirs, published by Doubleday. The drawing is by Raphael Soyer. A second instalment, describing his arrival in America, will be published in the next issue of the LRB.

Thank God, none of my fears and premonitions came true. I wasn’t detained on Ellis Island. The Immigration officers didn’t make any trouble for me. My brother Joshua and a fellow writer of his, Zygmunt Salkin, a member of the Anglo-Jewish press in America, came to meet me at the ship. After a few formalities I was seated in Salkin’s car.

At the onset of the 1930s, my disillusionment with myself reached a stage in which I had lost all hope. If truth be told, I had had little of it to lose. Hitler was on the verge of assuming power in Germany. The Polish fascists proclaimed that as far as the Jews were concerned they had the same plans for them as did the Nazis.

The posthumous English publication of Isaac Bashevis Singer’s mammoth novel Shadows on the Hudson has created such a tumel. Critics have been arguing about the quality of the novel,...

Read More

Singer’s Last Word

John Bayley, 24 October 1991

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...

Read More

Spivsville

Jonathan Bate, 27 July 1989

In Book Two of Disraeli’s Sybil, or The Two Nations the hero meets two strangers in the ruins of an abbey. One of them claims that the monasteries represented the only authentic communities...

Read More

The Slap

Michael Wilding, 17 April 1986

There is no doubt about the achievement of Isaac Bashevis Singer. He is one of the foremost storytellers of our time. His output has been prolific and now, in his 82nd year, comes a collection of...

Read More

Gehenna

Walter Kendrick, 2 August 1984

When Isaac Bashevis Singer won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1978, not everyone was gratified. Clive Sinclair begins The Brothers Singer with a quotation from a BBC radio interview broadcast...

Read More

Uncle Zindel

Gabriele Annan, 2 September 1982

Isaac Singer is a man of far away and long ago. He was born in the Warsaw Ghetto in 1904. His father was a Hassidic rabbi from a Jewish shtetl in Galicia, a place almost untouched by the...

Read More

Pretty Things

Peter Campbell, 21 February 1980

The literature of pre-literacy reaches its audience by way of adults – parents, teachers, librarians and so on. The best reason for learning to read is to escape from what they prescribe or...

Read More

Read anywhere with the London Review of Books app, available now from the App Store for Apple devices, Google Play for Android devices and Amazon for your Kindle Fire.

Sign up to our newsletter

For highlights from the latest issue, our archive and the blog, as well as news, events and exclusive promotions.

Newsletter Preferences