Category: Anti-Semitism

Mihail Sebastian: De două mii de ani (For Two Thousand Years)

The latest addition to my website is Mihail Sebastian‘s De două mii de ani (For Two Thousand Years). This is a novel about anti-Semitism which, for a long time, was very prevalent in Romania. Our narrator is at university studying law in the 1920s and he and others Jews are frequently attacked, not just verbally but also physically. He is befriended by a lecturer in political economics, Ghiţă Blidaru, who is based on Nae Ionescu. Sebastian considered Ionescu his mentor ans asked him to write a foreword to this book which turned out to be a vicious anti-Semitic diatribe. Blidaru is sympathetic towards our hero and steers him away from law to architecture. We follow his career as an architect, starting with a huge oil well/refinery project. Anti-Semitism, while it seemed to quieten down, is still rife and he is horrified by the anti-Semitic comments of both a very good friend and his boss towards the end of the book. Sadly, anti-Semitism will continue in Romania.

Patrick Modiano: Dora Bruder(Dora Bruder; The Search Warrant: Dora Bruder)

The latest addition to my website is Patrick Modiano‘s Dora Bruder(Dora Bruder; The Search Warrant: Dora Bruder). Our narrator (presumably Modiano himself) comes across a 1941 newspaper announcement about a missing fifteen-year old girl, Dora Bruder. Over the course of the next few years, he decides to track her down, as far as he can. He finds out some details about her and her origins. Her parents were immigrant Jews. She was headstrong and clearly ran away from the Catholic convent school to which she had been sent. Some of the information he speculates about, based on the situation. Dora Bruder is just one girl among many who disappeared during the Nazi occupation of France but Modiano here is showing how she represents the other Jews arrested and murdered simply because they were Jews.

Patrick Modiano: La Place de l’Étoile (La Place de l’Étoile)

The latest addition to my website is Patrick Modiano‘s La Place de l’Étoile (La Place de l’Étoile). This was Modiano’s first novel, published when he was twenty-two. It was a highly controversial as it viciously mocks French anti-Semitism but also French writers, Jews and Israel. It tells the story of Raphaël Schlemilovitch, a French Jew and his fanciful adventures, including his time in wartime Vienna (though he was born at the end of the war) as The Indispensable Jew, his friendship in Switzerland with a French aristocrat and a very real French Jewish writer who was, in reality, dead by this time, his involvement in the white slave trade and liking Israel to the Gestapo in France. Surprisingly, it did well in France, though it must have offended many and only came out in English translation, after Modiano won the Nobel Prize in 2015. Grotesque though it is, it may well be still very appropriate, given the rise of anti-Semitism in North America and Europe at the present time.

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