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THE LAST OF THE JUST, Andre Schwarz Bart s novel of remembranceAs an under grad at the University of Alabama, I often spent my time between classes at a college bookstore, Malone s, or at The Alabama Bookstore Malone s was ultimately gobbled up by their competition However both stores offered shelves of literature that frequently caught my eye and my meager funds.The Last of the Just by Andr Schwarz Bart was one of the many books I bought during my college days I skipped lunch that day to THE LAST OF THE JUST, Andre Schwarz Bart s novel of remembranceAs an under grad at the University of Alabama, I often spent my time between classes at a college bookstore, Malone s, or at The Alabama Bookstore Malone s was ultimately gobbled up by their competition However both stores offered shelves of literature that frequently caught my eye and my meager funds.The Last of the Just by Andr Schwarz Bart was one of the many books I bought during my college days I skipped lunch that day to buy it I was skinny then, too, had hair, muscles, and the world on a string I still have my original paperback copy, boxed away, but readily obtainable This is a book I remember as clearly today as when I first read it, too many years ago.It was a visit to my next door neighbor last night that prompted me to review it today As I have mentioned before, my neighbor is one of my former psychology professors We raid one another s bookshelves on a regular basis.Old Uncle Howard, as he calls himself to me, is something of a father figure And I have officially been made a member of the Miller family Howard is Jewish, but considers himself so culturally, not spiritually, as he will tell you in a heartbeat Not since nine, have I believed How can you know, I asked him He grunted Occam s Razor, remember your history and systems of psychology course But there had to be some initial causation, wouldn t you say, I retorted From a standpoint of intellectual honesty, the only thing we can say within reason is, I don t know Grunt Grrrmph The Millers lost a son to cancer a year or so before I became their neighbor Sometimes I think I may have become adopted Of late, when I visit, I have dined with them My place is set between them, Old Uncle Howard at the head of the table to my right, his wife to the left.Interestingly, although claiming to be a non believer, Howard says Kaddish for his son each year He has shown me his yarmulke, his brother s and his father s, which he keeps carefully packed away His Hebrew flows as a song During Hanukkah, the Menorah was in view and Howard bought a Hanukkah table cloth.It was around that time I borrowed The Complete Mausby Art Spiegelman from him I had never read it, though I was familiar with it I was stunned, as I previously indicated in my review of it.When I returned Maus to Uncle Howard, we discussed it, as we always do about our reading I mentioned that Art Spiegelman had published MetaMaus A Look Inside a Modern Classic, Maus Howard s response was two eyebrows archly raised, punctuated by an enthusiastic and curious Really His wife always shares in our talks She is as voracious a reader as many of us are.A few days later when I popped over to check on them, Margaret said, I have to show you something She excitedly opened a box fromIt was MetaMaus A Look Inside a Modern Classic, Maus I saw the look on Howard s face when you were telling him about it She s very observant smileSo yesterday, I ambled over to take them a whopping big bowl of hopping john, collards, and southern cornbread that means no sugar in the bread, thank you very much Sugar in cornbread is an abomination You want sugar, eat cake.Howard and I were chatting I never saw your response when you opened MetaMaus A Look Inside a Modern Classic, Maus What did you think Now, that s a BOOK His face was almost luminous as he answered I was wandering Do you think there is a way to get Art Spiegelman to sign this I told him I was sure there might be some way I suggested a personal letter to the publisher who would forward it to Spiegelman through his editor or agent Good A letter I can write I should tell him about my grandparents in Auschwitz You ve never told me Oh, the subject just never came up before Uh huh Sometimes I wonder that I was ever born They were two of the lucky ones I could have been somebody else or nothing at all And that led me to ask him if he had ever read The Last of the Just No Tell me about it So, I told him Today, I write to tell you about it.From Wiki Mystical Hasidic Judaism as well as other segments of Judaism believe that there is the Jewish tradition of 36 righteous people whose role in life is to justify the purpose of humankind in the eyes of God Tradition holds that their identities are unknown to each other and that, if one of them comes to a realization of their true purpose then they may die and their role is immediately assumed by another person The Lamed Vav Tzaddikim are also called the Nistarim concealed ones In our folk tales, they emerge from their self imposed concealment and, by the mystic powers, which they possess, they succeed in averting the threatened disasters of a people persecuted by the enemies that surround them They return to their anonymity as soon as their task is accomplished, concealing themselves once again in a Jewish community wherein they are relatively unknown The lamed vavniks, scattered as they are throughout the Diaspora, have no acquaintance with one another On very rare occasions, one of them is discovered by accident, in which case the secret of their identity must not be disclosed The lamed vavniks do not themselves know that they are ones of the 36 In fact, tradition has it that should a person claim to be one of the 36, that is proof positive that they are certainly not one Since the 36 are each exemplars of anavah, humility , having such a virtue would preclude against one s self proclamation of being among the special righteous The 36 are simply too humble to believe that they are one of the 36 1 , 1 Rabbi Zwerin s Sermon Kol Nidre, The 36 Who are theyThe Rebbe s sermon is a fascinating read, its self.Andr Schwarz Bart s life is something to ponder about as much as his novel, The Last of the Just Born May 28, 1928, Metz, Moselle, Schwarz Bart was a Frenchman of Polish Jewish origins His parents moved to France in 1924.In 1941, Schwarz Bart s parents were seized by the Nazis and transported to Auschwitz Schwarz Bart escaped the round up and joined the French Resistance, still a teenager His parents died at Auschwitz His war time experiences and the deaths of his parents resulted in Le Dernier des Justes published in France in 1959, taking the Prix de Grancourt in the same year It appeared in English, translated by Stephen Becker, as The Last of the Just published by Atheneum in 1960.Schwarz Bart uses the realm of the Lamed Vav Tzaddikim to tell the story of the Levy family beginning in 1105 England, with the earliest known member of the family to be one of the thirty six righteous What follows is a horror story of hate, inquisitions, intolerance, murder, and pogroms, as we watch each generation assume the burden of responsibility and guilt for the evils of humanity, to justify the existence of life.We end with Ernie, a teen aged boy, who could pass for a gentile but enters the maelstrom of the holocaust He is the last of his line How can one man absorb the burden of the final solution to justify the existence of humanity This book remains as alive for me today as when I first read it almost forty years orago And I ve read it since It still haunts me.In 1991, Michael Dorris, writing for the LA Times, said, Every page demands to know Why How could this abomination have happened Whether Jewish or Gentile, we are reminded how easily torn is the precious fabric of civilization, and how destructive are the consequences of dumb hatred whether a society s henchmen are permitted to beat an Ernie Levy because he s Jewish, or because he s black or gay or Hispanic or homeless The novel endures precisely because it forces us to empathize, and thus to remember was once an international sensation seems to have faded into obscurity A first edition of the first American edition can be picked up for a song I think I ll buy one no, two One for me and one for Uncle Howard.Andre Schwarze Bart died of complications following heart surgery on September 30, 2006, Pointe Pitre, Guadeloupe I will remember him Should you read this wonderful book, so will you May there be abundant peacefrom Heavenand good lifefor us and for all Israel and let s say to it, Amen From the Mourner s Kaddish This book, written in 1959, was one of the early accountings of the atrocities inflicted on Jews in Europe during World War II The novel caused a sensation in France when it was released just five years after the end of WW II and the blurb says the Prix Goncourt was awarded early specifically to recognize this book The author, who just became a teenager as the war began, lost both of his parents in concentration camps The main character is a young boy who is so humiliated by his teachers and This book, written in 1959, was one of the early accountings of the atrocities inflicted on Jews in Europe during World War II The novel caused a sensation in France when it was released just five years after the end of WW II and the blurb says the Prix Goncourt was awarded early specifically to recognize this book The author, who just became a teenager as the war began, lost both of his parents in concentration camps The main character is a young boy who is so humiliated by his teachers and classmates that he attempts suicide There are many parallels with the Jewish boy in the novel The Oppermanns by Leon Feuchtwanger, including the idea that some German Jews considered themselvesGerman than Jewish but, in the end, that did not save them It s all here the terror, the brutality, the senselessness of the persecutions, the pervasive terror of the times The book begins as a family saga following several generations of this particular family lineage of just men There is a lot of history of the family in the book going back to 1200, but the story comes to focus around World War II The title comes from the Jewish tradition of a just man, which can be inherited, although not necessarily so, as the just man sometimes skips a generation Fathers are sometimes surprised by which of their sons or grandsons becomes the just man The role of the just man is to take on 1 36 of the suffering of the world, or at least to be cognizant of that suffering There s a lot of suffering to go around, so the earth requires 36 just men A classic line from the book let us speak rather of something gay What s new about the war There are no happy endings in this work How common is a phase of Shoah exploration I found it rather odd and off outting when I fell into a period in my early 20s, I was nearly obsessed and read constantly from scholarly analyses, memoirs and novels I found the subject nearly untenable for most people in Southern Indiana why would you want to read about that Since then I have encountered a half dozen kindred souls who likewise went inexplicably overboard on this darkest of subjects.I read this novel in 1994 and was ripped as if by How common is a phase of Shoah exploration I found it rather odd and off outting when I fell into a period in my early 20s, I was nearly obsessed and read constantly from scholarly analyses, memoirs and novels I found the subject nearly untenable for most people in Southern Indiana why would you want to read about that Since then I have encountered a half dozen kindred souls who likewise went inexplicably overboard on this darkest of subjects.I read this novel in 1994 and was ripped as if by the throat and throttled violently One of my favorite pieces of realistic fiction, Schwarz Bart s book is nothing less than a masterpiece The book examines antisemitism throughout historic Europe up to WW2 The story goes through several pogroms throughout Europe s history and ends with the worst act of evil to ever befall the Jewish people of Europe, the Holocaust The story is heavily based on the Tzadikim Nistarim, a notion prevalent within mystical Hasidim Having some background knowledge about Europe s history after establ One of my favorite pieces of realistic fiction, Schwarz Bart s book is nothing less than a masterpiece The book examines antisemitism throughout historic Europe up to WW2 The story goes through several pogroms throughout Europe s history and ends with the worst act of evil to ever befall the Jewish people of Europe, the Holocaust The story is heavily based on the Tzadikim Nistarim, a notion prevalent within mystical Hasidim Having some background knowledge about Europe s history after establishment of the Roman Catholic Church, as well as a bit of background knowledge about Judaism may help establish a better contextual footing for somebody reading this book for the first time I highly recommend reading this book several times throughout your life The text seems to get richer and richer after each reading, which is indicative of a true work of literary genius All I can say is that this book made me weep Literally If you read this book and are unmoved by the terrible inhumanity we are all capable of exhibiting, you may not have experienced a healthy dose of love in your life and therefore have no heart Seriously This book follows the Jewish experience through pograms to an entire family s extinction during the Holocaust It examines anti semitism and an all too human reaction to atrocity of not my problem It is tough to read, but worth it. it is difficult to find words to describe a book that i look back upon as one of the most brilliant yet difficult reads of my life andre schwarz bart, winner of the Prix Goncourt, is an author extraordinnaire a genius of a writer who might not appeal to the average reader please forgive the sound of arrogance yet will titillate the juices of the discriminating, deep reader i cannot say too much nor do i want to write so called spoilers this work of genius and art ranks as one theit is difficult to find words to describe a book that i look back upon as one of the most brilliant yet difficult reads of my life andre schwarz bart, winner of the Prix Goncourt, is an author extraordinnaire a genius of a writer who might not appeal to the average reader please forgive the sound of arrogance yet will titillate the juices of the discriminating, deep reader i cannot say too much nor do i want to write so called spoilers this work of genius and art ranks as one thedifficult holocaust story reads i ve EVER experienced schwarz bart takes his readers on a roller coaster ride through the history of the story of the last of the just which commences back to the time of the prophet isaiah, jumping from chapter to chapter from the life of ernie levy the last of the just back tothe beginingthen back to ernie onceuntil, eventually, we stay with ernie and his attempts to escape the almost inevitable fate of every european jew during the rise of hitler s nazi war machine and attempts to wipe the jews off the face of the earth i promise you great emotion as you travel with mr schwarz bart, the 36 mortal just men and then, ernie levy, the last of the just brilliant, emotional and a don t miss, must read Amongst the literature of the Holocaust, this is an absolute masterpiece It s based on a twist of the Chassidic legend that there are 36 righteous people hidden in the world whose very existence justifies the existence of the rest of it, even evil The author made mistakes with the concept, though In his book, the status of being one of the righteous is passed from father to son, which is NOT part of the Chassidic tradition Also, they seem to know that they are the hidden righteous, which is Amongst the literature of the Holocaust, this is an absolute masterpiece It s based on a twist of the Chassidic legend that there are 36 righteous people hidden in the world whose very existence justifies the existence of the rest of it, even evil The author made mistakes with the concept, though In his book, the status of being one of the righteous is passed from father to son, which is NOT part of the Chassidic tradition Also, they seem to know that they are the hidden righteous, which is certainly not part of the tradition The hidden righteous are supposed to be so humble, they themselves don t realize that their righteousness is sustaining the world My husband tells me that the number 36 isn t even Chassidic tradition, but that one has become particularly well known All this aside, it s a beautifully, haunting book that begins in the Middle Ages and follows through with every generation Each of the hidden righteous is martyred somehow, which, unfortunately, is true to life The book focuses in especially on the generation before the Holocaust with life in the shtetl and the arranged marriage of the couple who become the parents of the final protagonist, a Jewish boy living during the Holocaust The book is as tragic as you d expect, but still a literary masterpiece &FREE BOOK ↲ The Last of the Just ↾ Published in sixteen languages and winner of the prestigious Prix Goncourt, Andre Schwarz Bart s The Last of the Just is considered by many the single greatest novel of the HolocaustOn March in the old Anglican city of York, the Jews of the city were brutally massacred by their townsmen As legend has it, God blessed the only survivor of this medieval pogrom, Rabbi Yom Tov Levy, as one of the Lamed Vov, the thirty six Just Men of Jewish tradition, a blessing which extended to one Levy of each succeeding generation This terrifying and remarkable legacy is traced over eight centuries, from the Spanish Inquisition, to expulsions from England, France, Portugal, Germany, and Russia, and to the small Polish village of Zemyock, where the Levys settle for two centuries in relative peace It is in the twentieth century that Ernie Levy emerges, The Last of the Just, in s Germany, as Hitler s sinister star is on the rise and the agonies of Auschwitz loom on the horizon This classic work, long unavailable in a trade edition, is one of those few novels that, once read, is never forgotten An absolutely essential read for anyone who has any interest whatsoever in trying to understand the Holocaust It is a singular work and one of the most powerful novels I have ever read The ending is something that I will never get out of my mind Devastating. A great book that I must re read.