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This collection of short stories was the first book I purchased at City Lights in San Francisco. A true treasure to add to my personal library! Melancholic Yiddish tales, yes. Hopeful sentiment, no. Just knowing what historically lies ahead for Eastern Europe between the two World Wars and how Bergelson was murdered by Stalin's regime on The Night of the Murdered Poets adds to the ever graying mood of The Berlin Stories.
If only Hitler and Stalin had an appreciation for Yiddish literature. Seriously.
The most interesting thing about this book, IMO, was the history of the author. David Bergelson lived in Berlin during the 1920's. During that time it was a place of exile for Yiddish intellectuals. He eventually returned to Russia thinking that Yiddish culture would thrive in the communist state. Unfortunately, Stalin had other ideas. Bergelson was killed in 1952. This collection of short stories are pretty dark, but clever and layered. Not for the casual reader, but if you have an interest in
Just OK. Interesting series of stories assembled from the world of Berlin between the wars through the eyes of a Jewish exile from the Ukraine, a very popular writer in Yiddish at the time. Particularly liked the fat frau in the first story and the self-described Jewish terrorist who struggles to assasinate the 'pogromist' who moves in across the hall in his boarding house.Joseph Roth's book of Berlin stories makes an interesting contrast.