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One of the Guardian Unlimited Books' top 10 literary blogs: "A home-grown treasure ... smart, serious analysis"

The Bookaholics' Guide to Book Blogs: "Mark Thwaite ... has a maverick, independent mind"

Friday 23 September 2005


The Complete-Review takes a look at The Story of a Life by Aharon Appelfeld, saying:

It is a short book, with much detail that might be of more obvious interest going unmentioned, and yet one gets a good sense of the man [...] Coming to Israel he learned Hebrew, but it was a struggle, the language not coming easily to him. Eventually he would write his books in Hebrew; part of their power certainly lies in that awareness of it not being his natural tongue, but one acquired relatiely late in life, a necessary replacement for the languages of his childhood.

See also Steve's review of Appelfeld's A Table for One. And also worth noting is that just out from Penguin Classics is Appelfeld's Badenheim, 1939.

In 1982, Appelefeld was interviewed by the Boston Review. Responding to the question, "At this time, age 13, what was your sense of self?" he replied:

Very disoriented. Deeply disoriented. I’d never attended school in my life, just the first grade which I’d started but not finished. Knowing a lot of languages, but really not rooted in a language. My home language was German, but I’d spoken many other languages, of course. My grandparents, they’d spoken Yiddish. The maids in my home were Ukrainian, so I spoke Ukrainian. The regime was Rumanian, so I picked up a bit of Rumanian. And then I was in Russia and picked up Russian, then Italy and picked up some Italian. So I came with a bunch of words, different languages–but still very deeply disoriented. It’s taken many years for me to get oriented–who I am, to whom I belong. This was a very deep effort.

Posted by Mark Thwaite

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