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Synopsis

Isaac Bashevis Singer (1904-1991) is widely recognized as the most popular Yiddish writer of the twentieth century. His translated body of work, for which he received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1978, is beloved around the world. But although Singer was a very public and outgoing figure, much about his personal life remains unknown. In Isaac Bashevis Singer, Florence Noiville offers a glimpse into the world of this much-beloved but persistently elusive figure.

An astonishingly prolific writer, Singer was able to recreate the lost world of Jewish Eastern Europe and also to describe the immigrant experience in America. Drawing heavily upon folklore, Singer's work is noted for its mystical strain. But he was also heavily concerned with the problems of his own day, and through his novels and stories runs a strong undercurrent of social consciousness. Unafraid to celebrate peasant life, Singer was often accused of being vulgar, yet he was also recognized for a deeply moral sensibility. And much like his work, Singer's personal life was marked by contradiction: the son of a Rabbi, he struggled with warring currents of devotion and doubt. Solicitous of affection, he was also known for his philandering. Devoted to the notion of family, he abandoned his own son before the Second World War.

Drawing on letters, personal recollections, and interviews with Singer's friends, family, and publishing contemporaries, Florence Noiville speaks to these paradoxes. More appreciation than comprehensive biography, her narrative is rich in detail about the people, places, and ideas that shaped Singer's world. A remarkably vivid portrait of the man and his work emerges--a compassionate, vivid, and insightful vision of one of the twentieth century's greatest storytellers.

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