The Family Mashber
by Der Nister (‘The Hidden One’)
Translated from the Yiddish by Leonard Wolf
Collins, 1987, [First Edition thus], ISBN 000223257X , hardcover, dust-jacket
Near Fine Condition, minor edge and shelf wear, no inscriptions, dust-jacket shows minor edge and shelf wear (see photographs)
“Set in the 1880s in Russia, in the bustling, Yiddish-speaking city of N., this magnificent novel tells of the decline over a year in the fortunes of the prosperous Mashber family. Woven together are the tales of the three brothers: Luzi, the mystic, Alter, the idiot savant, and Moshe, the businessman, whom we first meet on the morning when, unaccountably, he goes out to buy his burial clothes and a plot of land for his grave.
Focussing on the family, the book moves in an ever-widening spiral, eventually including the whole of the city of N. in the Mashber’s downfall. Among the scores of vividly drawn characters are Sruli Gol, the mystical pragmatism and astonishing, symbolic figure who plays the flute at the weddings of the poor and whose avocation is to shame the rich; Mikhel Bukyer, whose passionate scepticism destroys him in the town where power is in the hands of a religiously orthodox establishment; Moshe’s wife, Gittele, whose gentleness shames a mob; and Gnessye, the young kitchen maid, who breaks the confines of the erotic cliché which defines her to become a heroine.”