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Idiots First Bernard Malamud The author Born in Brooklyn, New York in 1914 American author of novels and short stories. Along with Saul Bellow and Philip.

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Presentation on theme: "Idiots First Bernard Malamud The author Born in Brooklyn, New York in 1914 American author of novels and short stories. Along with Saul Bellow and Philip."— Presentation transcript:

1 Idiots First Bernard Malamud The author Born in Brooklyn, New York in 1914 American author of novels and short stories. Along with Saul Bellow and Philip Roth, he was one of the great American Jewish authors of the 20th century. Malamud s fiction touches lightly upon mythic elements and explores themes like isolation, class, and the conflict between bourgeois and artistic values.

2 Idiots First Bernard Malamud The author His prose, like his settings, is an artful pastiche of Yiddish-English locutions, punctuated by sudden lyricism. Writing in the second half of the twentieth century, Malamud was well aware of the social problems of his day: rootlessness, infidelity, abuse, divorce, and more. But he also depicted love as redemptive and sacrifice as uplifting.

3 Idiots First Bernard Malamud The author Short stories, perhaps better than other forms of fiction, point up the haste and heaviness of the odds against us, and our million daily miraculous escapes from the worst of fates and the best of insights. I write a book or a short story three times. Once to understand her, the second time to improve her prose, and a third to compel her to say what it still must say. Life is a tragedy full of joy.

4 Idiots First Bernard Malamud Setting Darkness and coldness Eerie, enigmatic occurrence Small, deserted park; a leafless two- branched tree ; The thick right branch was raised, the thin left one hung down.

5 Idiots First Bernard Malamud Major characters Mendel: A sick old man, informed by Ginsburg the day before that he will die the next day, desparately tries to send his "half-wit" son Isaac to his eighty- one-year-old Uncle Leo in California. He does not have enough money to buy a train ticket for Isaac. He needs "thirty- five dollars" more. Isaac: Mendel's son, thirty-nine, mentally retarded, who seems to keep eating peanuts.

6 Idiots First Bernard Malamud Major characters Ginzburg: The death, personified in the end of the story as uniformed ticket collector, who would not let Mendel take Isaac to the train to California because it is Already past twelve. Mr. Fishbein: A rich Jew who won't give Mendel the money he needs: Private contributions I don't make – only to institutions. Yascha: A poor old rabbi, who gives Mendel a fur-lined caftan : I got my old one. Who needs two coats for one body?

7 Idiots First Bernard Malamud Chronology of Events On a Friday night in November: Mendel awakes in fright at suppertime. The clock has stopped. He takes Isaac to a pawnshop and gets eight dollars for his "worn gold watch." Then they go to Mr. Fishbein's to ask for thirty-five dollars in vain. At a park, Mendel is almost mugged. He took a trolley with Isaac to a former friend, who turns out to be dead for years. At about eleven: Mendel thinks of getting money for his furniture at the pawnshop but it is closed. Mendel goes in a synagogue and calls for a rabbi. A sexton tells him that he is asleep in his house next door. Mendel goes to the rabbi's house. Despite his wife's protest, he gives Mendel his new coat. Mendel practically snatches it away from his wife and runs with Isaac. After them noiselessly ran Ginsburg.

8 Idiots First Bernard Malamud Chronology of Events Around midnight: Somehow Mendel has changed the rabbi's coat into money and buys the train ticket in the only booth open. He hurries to the gate to the platform with Isaac. Ginzburg appears in the uniform of a ticket collector and stops them. After the argument and struggle, Mendel manages to board Isaac on the train. When the rain was gone, Mendel ascended the stairs to see what had become of Ginsburg.

9 Idiots First Bernard Malamud Themes Filial love a father's devotion to his mentally retarded son Financial acquisitiveness of the upper class Pain and struggle of the underprivileged people Fearlessness in the face of death

10 Idiots First Bernard Malamud Symbol – Ginzburg Death is portrayed as an evil stalker, who tries to keep the main character Mendel from getting his son to a family member, to take care of him, before he dies. Ginzburg (Death) takes the form of many characters in the story, all of which hinder Mendel from completing his task. In the end of the story Ginzburg has Mendel at his mercy, at the gate to the train, and looks into the eye's of Mendel and can see the fear he has of not being able to take care of his son.

11 Idiots First Bernard Malamud Motifs The tree Contributing to the story s refined sense of terror, vaguely surrealistic dream landscape Mendel s desperately fearful imagination Demonstration of Ginzburg s power and his ability to strike terror The clock/watch Reminder for Mendel that his time is running out

12 Idiots First Bernard Malamud Malamud and the Jewish writing Every man is a Jew though he may not know it, Bernard Malamud has said. For him, this notion of the Jew as Everyman comprises the primal knowledge... that life is tragic, no matter how sweet or apparently full. Beginning with God s gift of a spirituality that raises man to his highest being, the Jewish drama persists through betrayal of that gift, destruction, exile, and an oftentimes agonizing defense of moral selfhood, human responsibility, even occasional joy. As for the local version of this drama, Malamud sees the ethical ideal of compassion echoed in American democratic principles, and he sees Jewish historical experience as a rich and tragic drama of the self realization of a people, akin to this country's own self realization.

13 Idiots First Bernard Malamud Malamud and the Jewish writing Malamud (in 1966) thinks it a lucky break to be a member of a minority group... in America. Everyone has a heritage, he says, but the Jews because of their everlasting struggle to maintain theirs, are especially conscious of it. However debatable Malamud's inclination to see the Jew as universal man, it can justify and deepen his fiction.

14 Idiots First Bernard Malamud Further readings Novels The Natural (1952) The Fixer (1966) (Pulitzer Prize) Short Stories The Mourners (1955) The Jewbird (1963)


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