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Satan v Goraji
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Satan v Goraji

3.9 of 5 stars 3.90  ·  rating details  ·  646 ratings  ·  40 reviews
As messianic zeal sweeps through medieval Poland, the Jews of Goray divide between those who, like the Rabbi, insist that no one can "force the end" and those who follow the messianic pretender Sabbatai Zevi. But as hysteria and depravity increase, it becomes clear that it is not the Messiah who has come to Goray.
Hardcover, 149 pages
Published 2003 by Argo (first published 1955)
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Bill  Kerwin

In the wake of a pogrom, a 17th Century Jewish village in eastern Poland is further unsettled by a frantic enthusiasm for the Messiah from the east, Sabbatai Zevi.

This is a very strange book--more like an elaborate folk tale than a traditional novel. It is also very wise, and it shows with frightening clarity how a society of good people can be destroyed by great misery followed by desperate hope.
che grande scrittore singer- ti prende e ti trascina in un paesino della polonia nel diciassettesimo secolo, tra rabbini rigorosi, seguaci di un falso messia, profetesse, dibbuk, abissi di degradazione ed eccessi di ogni tipo. satana a goray, romanzo d'esordio dello scrittore, è un libro vorticoso e profondo sul bisogno che l'uomo ha della fede, sugli ingannevolezza delle apparenze e sulla necessità disperata di arginare la confusione dovuta all'ignoto. bellissimo romanzo, bellissimo affresco su ...more
Lovely historical novel about how the Jewish community in a small village in the outskirts of Poland fell prey to religious madness and the Sabbatai Zvi-sect during the aftermath of the Chmelnicki massacres. The writing is good (or at least my translation was), the subject matter itself is interesting & the story is wonderfully told. The moral is very interesting albeit debatable, being that people should not try to coerce god into bringing forth the end of the or salvation in this case even ...more
Satan in Goray takes place in a Jewish village in 17th century Poland during the time of the pogroms. It is a tale: full of dark miracles and strange winds that blow in rumors and demons and turbulence. I did not enjoy reading this book, but I found it helpful in understanding both the medieval mindset, and also the vulnerability to deception which a people who have been persecuted might be prone to. Singer's bottom line message is that humans get into big trouble when they try to manipulate God ...more
Very dark but so compelling. Reminded me of Dostoevsky with all the holy lunatics and criminals.
When I finished this book I did not - nor do I now - know quite what to think. It is a tale about desperation, fervor, and false hope. One thing that made this novel so striking - to me at least - was the abrupt change in tone for the last two chapters. Most of the prose is narrated by a cool and detached voice that knows nearly all the goings-on in Goray, but has limited access to the characters' own minds. The reader remains at a distance from even the main characters. I was almost tempted to ...more
Tipsy Pixy
I really liked this book. It gives the reader a good view of the lives of the European Jews in the early 17th century. I think the title is slightly misleading, but good enough. The way it is written makes it obvious that it was an oral story and in another language. At times you wonder why it jumps around so much, but keeping this in mind gets you through it. The last few chapters make you not want to put it down! I loved this novel and love how the 'fall of man' happens in this novel. One thin ...more
What starts out as the semi-historical story of a small Polish town caught up in the religious fervor surrounding Sabbatai Zevi quickly turns into a folk tale of monsterous proportions. Entertaining and truly absurd.
Lorenzo Berardi
Isaac B. Singer's typewriter worked as a time machine.

Seventeenth century, Poland.

an extremely believable choral portrait of superstitious dwellers in a Jewish shtetl in the middle of nowhere.

-horns and drums-
the Messiah (he will show up himself).

being the first novel Singer ever wrote (he was still in Poland at that time), there are just some minor details in style he would have written in a better way in the following years.

this is what
Thales Carvalho
It is like Dostoyevsky's "The Demons", but mystical. Very good.
Brent Robins
Singer is an amazing storyteller, and one of the best writers ever. This book never had a dull page. He really brings alive the lifestyle of the shtetl. I plan to read a few more of his novels. I do not know if there has ever been another writer who can write more vividly about traditional Jewish life.
Jim M
In medieval Poland, Jewish society splits into; one follows a rabbi, the other, a false messiah.
Satan in Goray paints a vivid and mystical picture of Jewish rural life in the Poland of the 17th century, in a style far removed from the politicised drivel that one is often confronted with today.

The citizens of Goray are confronted with anti-semitic dangers, religious fervor and false messianism in tale that sharply analyses the processes of mass hysteria and apocalyptic thinking. All of this is set against a background highly charged with folklore and magic, making it particularly appealing
Not sure what I didn't like about this or content. I had it built up to be fairly disturbing and it fell very short of that. Some dark territory but not all that much. The Folk tale style was also slightly tiring after a while. Could have gone with 2.5 stars if the option was there but truth be told I had to force myself through to the end of this one. (Sorry Isaac, you seem like such an interesting fellow I will promise to read more of your work) There now I feel better.
Elijah Spector
Read for my Yiddish Lit class.

In a semester of depressing reading, this was possibly the most dismal and hopeless, but that's exactly what it was meant to convey. The story is somewhat from the point of view of the town of Goray itself, and at times this makes the personal repercussions of certain events hard to really get a grasp on (the most shocking moment in the book, for me, was never mentioned again), but overall a very intense, and fucking depressing, but extremely good book.
Feb 28, 2015 Velvetink marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: wishlist
Both an accomplished historical recreation and a darkly magical conjuring of the heights and depths of religious exaltation and despair, centered around a deeply sympathetic (though hardly uncritical) empathy for the always precarious life of 17th century Polish Jewry. Singer excels with moments of startling descriptive beauty and in the well judged ambiguity in his use of the imagery and atmosphere of folk tales and the supernatural.
John Jackson
I really enjoyed this book, but certain parts were very slow. The village itself really come to life with the descriptions of each character. If you read this book for no other reason, the final chapter will stay with you. It predates The Exorcist and shows a really graphic attempt at an exorcism taking place, really detailed and really well written. The book itself is a really quick read that you could easily finish in a weekend.
Andrew Pessin
went in with high expectations, was kind of disappointed -- good parts detailing life in a small shtetl during the 17th century time of the false messiah sabbatai zevi, but overall the book had a rather disjointed structure i didn't love, and chose to be realistic where it should have been fanciful -- eg treated demons as real rather than as products of villagers' superstitions, which I found annoying ....
Miss GP
I'm sure this book is brilliant, Singer is a genius, and I understand the historical backdrop against which Singer was writing...but I've got to admit I didn't really enjoy it. I suspect that this is a personal problem on my part -- I think I simply don't like folktale-like novels. Goray is also a bit disjointed, and I think for that reason, too, it didn't do much for me.
i love IBS's short fiction, inhale it even. But it took me a long time to read this (pretty short) novel. Not as smooth or humorous as other Singer I have read. Definitely has some of his trademark blend of modernism with folklore. But pretty bleak. Has a few priceless moments though. I expect I will want to re-read at some point.
Quite simple story or metaphor narrated in the very expressive way. The evil is slowly crawling to the small jewish village of Goray, people are starting to believe in false prophets and the Messiah so the work of destruction could be done. Poor Rechele is most mysterious character in the book.
Dense with cultural references, but hugely interesting.

The formal shift at the end of the novel makes me think something else is going on that I don't quite get . . .

I'm not fully sure what to make of it yet.
Modernist trappings mar but don't destroy this excellent depiction of religious memetic fervor in still-medieval middle Europe, the highpoint of which is a brilliant, terrifying demonic possession scene. I'm tempted to say that the devil really is in the details.
I liked that the antagonists were those that studied Kaballah and were not "learned"people. I disliked the very end when the author explained the moral of the story-I felt slightly insulted as a reader.Over all an excellent book.
Rachel Wool
this novel will teach you how to read. The first Fiction novel by Singer, it is tempting to read it as a reaction to the Holocaust but it was written before the nazi invasion of poland.
Todd  Fife
I dare say that this book is much better than the rating I gave it. For whatever reason, I just could not get into it.
Nick Black
I probably need to read this again now that I'm older and, hopefully, wiser (or at least more experienced).
Mirka Breen
When a book is powerful, riveting, succinct and also 'important,' I take my virtual hat off.
Profoundly disturbing novelization of the false Messiah, Shabbatai Zvi.
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Isaac Bashevis Singer was a Polish American author of Jewish descent, noted for his short stories. He was one of the leading figures in the Yiddish literary movement, and received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1978.
His memoir, "A Day Of Pleasure: Stories of a Boy Growing Up in Warsaw", won the U.S. National Book Award in Children's Literature in 1970, while his collection "A Crown of Feathers
More about Isaac Bashevis Singer...
The Slave Gimpel the Fool and Other Stories The Collected Stories of Isaac Bashevis Singer Enemies: A Love Story The Magician of Lublin

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