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Satan in Goray by Isaac Bashevis Singer

Satan in Goray (1935)

by Isaac Bashevis Singer

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A fabulous story of the life of a closed, isolated jewish village in the 17th century Poland. A village where everyone waits for the messiah coming but someone completely different arrives and the village's life turns upside down... ( )
  TheCrow2 | Oct 4, 2013 |
If you are not ready to wade into intricacies of 17th Century Jewish life, issues, and politics, then you may want to shy away from this book. However, in spite of what could be a tough read because of the subject and the style (as the translator notes “the style classic, almost archaic”), people are still people. And Singer does a good job of weaving the lives of these people into the story of the potential coming of the Messiah.

The book is based on events which occurred in the 1660s when the Jewish expectations of the coming Messiah had reached a peak. Many false Messiahs came to answer the call, but one in particular seemed to be the real deal – Sabbatai Zevi. That he wasn’t became apparent when he had the choice of death or converting to the Muslim faith. He lived a long life.

The book is set in the town of Goray in Poland, where the town becomes torn apart. It would seem that the bigger issue of whether or not a true Messiah is coming is at the core of this strife, but it is really the smaller everyday issues that underlay every community – the “Messiah” just helps bring these to a head.

The book is no easy read, for the reasons given above. However, it is an excellent book that brings the times alive with real people who, cloaked in their traditions, struggle to move on with life – whether that life is about to be cut blessedly short by fulfillment of God’s promises, or it is to continue on with the realities we all face. ( )
1 vote figre | Dec 30, 2012 |
The Jewish messiah has arrived. Or has he? Sabbetai Zevi’s mid-seventeenth century cult drives a small Jewish village in Poland to madness as believers and non-believers in the professed saviour respectively overthrow and then restore the established religious tradition of the town.

The book is fast paced and involving, but I felt had a messy ending – the narrative switches very suddenly to explain the end of the movement in the form of a religious text, rather than the more standard narrative that has driven the rest of the book. In another review of the book online, this was explained as a device to show up the inadequacy of a religious explanation for what had happened as well as the sociological one which had already been exposed. If this is the case, I think it was unnecessary; the problems of a religious explanation were already more than apparent. Nevertheless, an intriguing book, well worth the read. ( )
  roblong | Oct 15, 2008 |
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» Add other authors (17 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Isaac Bashevis Singerprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Некрасов, ИсроэлTranslatormain authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sloan, JosephTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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In the year 1648, the wicked Ukrainian hetman, Bogdan Chmelnicki, and his followers besieged the city of Zamosc but could not take it, because it was strongly fortified; the rebelling haidamak peasants moved on to spread havoc in Tomaszow, Bilgoraj, Krasnik, Turbin, Frampol -- and in Goray, too, the town that lay in the midst of the hills at the end of the world.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0374524793, Paperback)

As messianic zeal sweeps through medieval Poland, the Jews of Goray divide between those who, like the Rabbi, insist that no one can "force the end" and those who follow the messianic pretender Sabbatai Zevi. But as hysteria and depravity increase, it becomes clear that it is not the Messiah who has come to Goray.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:33:53 -0400)

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