Out of the Depths

Joseph Hayyim Brenner, Author, David Patterson, Author Westview Press $15.95 (101p) ISBN 978-0-8133-1427-3
As Patterson, president of the Oxford Centre for Postgraduate Hebrew Studies, explains in an illuminating introduction, Brenner (1881-1921), whose pivotal novel Breakdown and Bereavement appeared in English translation 50 years after his death, was nonetheless a major figure in early-20th-century Hebrew literature; this addition to his works in English translation is long overdue. First published in a Hebrew-language Viennese periodical in 1908-1909, Out of the Depths is based on Brenner's harsh experiences among a group of Russian Jewish emigres who toiled at a Yiddish daily newspaper in London. Employing the literary techniques of stream of consciousness, fragmentation, shifting perspectives, emotive punctuation and the infusion of Yiddish, Russian, German and English words, Brenner made substantial inroads into modern Hebrew prose as he indicted the moral bankruptcy of Diaspora Jewish life. Brenner's ruthless portraits of contemptuous Jewish trade-unionists and of the miserable environs of the newly arrived are tempered by a ray of hope in the form of Abraham Menuhin, an immigrant Jew who plays the hero for another immigrant Jew impregnated and abandoned by a Russian gentile. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 02/03/1992
Release date: 02/01/1992
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