Yiddish writer Isaac Bashevis Singer (1904-1993), winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature, who moved to the United States in 1935, created a complex fictional world of longing and despair. The course studies his oeuvre in chronological order, from his early experiments in mysticism while in his native Poland, such as the novel Satan in Goray, to his numerous stories like “Gimpel the Fool” and “A Wedding in Brownsville,” rendered in English by a cadre of mostly female translators and published in Forverts, The New Yorker, and other periodicals. The focus is on Singer’s immigrant identity and his embrace by American readers as a symbolic bridge between the Old World and the New. Singer’s sexual persona, his philosophical and political investigations on Spinoza, Communism, and God, his reaction to the Holocaust and the creation of the state of Israel, his interest in Golems and Dybbuks, and his thoughts on translation, are part of the discussion. Some of his children stories are also contemplated. Conducted in English.
Limited to 20 students. Fall semester. Professor Stavans.
If Overenrolled: Amherst College juniors and seniors will have first priority.