The Death of Methuselah and Other Stories
Singer (Isaac Bashevis)
This Page provides (where held) the Abstract of the above Book and those of all the Papers contained in it.


Back Cover Blurb

  1. ‘Jealousy, treachery, abandonment, cuckoldry: all human life is here ... but behind the trouble there is a mischievous serenity, a disenchanted joy in life irresistible book’
    → Salman Rushdie in the Observer
  2. Themes of envy, betrayal and sexual perversity run through this richly varied collection. Among the twenty stories (are)
    • ‘Disguised’, a transvestite tale of the yeshiva student whose deserted wife finds him dressed as a woman and married to a man.
    • In ‘The House Friend’ the author, as a young writer, learns from Max Stein the erotic meaning behind this domestic term.
    • ‘The Jew of Babylon’ is a masterly account of a miracle worker and sorcerer whose good works are bitterly resented by the demonic forces of evil, while
    • The title story concerns the fable of Noah’s grandfather, longing for death at the very moment when the Deluge is about to be unleashed.
  3. ‘He catches the spiritual energy of that abrupt transition from the ancient to the modem [that suffuses Yiddish literature] ... This energy seems to underlie the urbane sorcery of his work, his almost manic power to spin out abundant and immensely entertaining narrative’
    → The New York Times Book Review
  4. ‘Singer is one of the great storytellers of this century. He has a skill for the gripping short narrative, that is almost without precedent since the time of Kipling ... a wonderful collection of stories’
    → New Statesman

  1. The Jew from Babylon – 3
  2. The House Friend – 14
  3. Burial at Sea – 25
  4. The Recluse – 36
  5. Disguised – 48
  6. The Accuser and the Accused – 61
  7. The Trap – 68
  8. The Smuggler – 85
  9. A Peephole in the Gate – 93
  10. The Bitter Truth – 121
  11. The Impresario – 131
  12. Logarithms – 146
  13. Gifts – 156
  14. Runners to Nowhere – 164
  15. The Missing Line – 176
  16. The Hotel – 185
  17. Dazzled – 200
  18. Sabbath in Gehenna – 212
  19. The Last Gaze – 220
  20. The Death of Methuselah – 233

Author’s Note
  1. Whenever I begin to ponder modern man and his disappointment with his own culture, my mind leads me back to the history of creation as it is described by the divine genius who wrote the Book of Genesis. The very creation of man became a disappointment to God. He had to destroy his own masterpiece, which had become corrupted. According to the Talmud and the Midrash, the corruption was all sexual. Even the animals became sexually perverted at the time of the flood, and perhaps later in Sodom and Gomorrah.
  2. In my story “The Death of Methuselah,” I explore this theme. Methuselah, the man who lived longer than any other human being, was madly in love with a she-demon I call Naahma. She and her lover Ashiel were directing a conference of perverts and sadists from all over the world. Evil had become man’s greatest art, his main achievement. However, there is a spark of hope, because Methuselah’s grandson Noah has undertaken the mission to save mankind from utter destruction, in his ark. This story was not planned as most of my other work was. It almost wrote itself “automatically.” It told the reader and perhaps myself the story of cosmic and human art. Art must not be all rebellion and spite; it can also have the potential of building and correction. It can also in its own small way attempt to mend the mistakes of the eternal builder in whose image man was created.
  3. [..]


Penguin 1990

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  1. Blue: Text by me; © Theo Todman, 2020
  2. Mauve: Text by correspondent(s) or other author(s); © the author(s)

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