The Journey of Adam Kadmom

Leslie Stein, Author Arcade Publishing $24.95 (288p) ISBN 978-1-55970-500-4
Two lost pilgrims from different worlds search for spiritual identity in WWII-era India in this heavy-handed dramatization of religious mysticism and Jungian psychology. Warsaw philosophy professor Moses Aarons is becoming unhinged, haunted by a recurrent dream of desperation and futility, losing control of his libido in a sexual attraction to a young female student and developing an obsession with the cryptic teachings of the Zohar, a fundamental text of Jewish mysticism. He seeks the counsel of Carl Jung through letters and a short, ill-advised visit to the psychiatrist in Switzerland. On the return train journey, Moses meets Seth Tripathi, a disillusioned Franciscan monk on his way home to India to re-adopt Hinduism. When the Nazis invade Poland, Moses and his family flee, but he abandons his relatives when they are captured by police. Moses journeys on to India, in part to seek out his acquaintance Seth, now an itinerant Hindu monk. When the two meet again, in Banaras, Seth's health and new faith are both failing, and Moses is poor, homeless, guilt-ridden and desperate in an unsympathetic foreign land. The philosophical odd couple wander India, leaving an inadvertent wake of destruction behind them in their largely delusory spiritual quest. The contrived plot and sketchy characterizations render the novel less a story of real people than a Jungian allegory. Stein invokes Christianity, Hinduism and Kabbalistic mysticism as tools his protagonists use both to address their problems and to obscure them. But their self-indulgent philosophizing grows wearisome, and they remain opaque as characters, despite harrowing descriptions of their terrible hardships. (July)
Reviewed on: 01/31/2000
Release date: 02/01/2000
Paperback - 239 pages - 978-1-61145-426-0
Ebook - 144 pages - 978-1-62872-338-0
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