Enemies, A Love Story By: Isaac Bashevis Singer



“A story to me means a plot where there is some surprise. Because that is how life is- full of surprises.”
Isaac Bashevis Singer



Original Book Cover
Original Book Cover
Summary of the Novel:
Enemies, A Love Story was originally published in Yiddish (1966) then later in English (1972) reconigzed the darkness of the Holocaust even as it shows
modern Judaism. Before World War IIHerman Broder (main character) married his first wife Tamara Luria who later he had thought diedin the war. Herman
was then trapped in Poland during the Holocaust but was then saved by his
family maid Yadwiga, who hid him in a hayloft. After the Holocaust Herman believed his first wifedied so he married Yadwiga and moved to America. They wound up in Brooklyn, New York where Herman tried to hide from imaginary Nazis. He started working as a ghost writer and also has rejected his religion and his faithfulness to Yadwiga. Due to this he has an affair with Masha Tortshiner, another Holocaust survivor. Masha can relate to Herman with her personality she is bitter and self centered. Throughout the novel we come to find out that she believes she is pregnant and that "she cannot bring forth new life" so at then end of the novel she winds up killing herself. At the end of the book Herman vanishes from the world of the book (Judaism). Also in the novel Tamara reappears and has learned compassionand has a new look in life. While Yadwiga brings forth new life andnames her Masha also known as the new Masha because theold Masha's bitterness died with her.



The book was also turned into a movie on December 13, 1989 which was nominated for 3 Oscars.

Setting:
The novel starts out in Germany during World War II then throughout the journy of Herman we travel to Brooklyn, New York.


Characters:
Herman Broder: is a Polish Jew who survived the war, also he is unfaithful due to the fact that he has 3 wives. also goes missing
Yadwiga: was a Catholic and hid Herman from the threats of the Holocaust, moved to America with him and married him. towards the end of the novel she haves a baby that brings forth new life.
Tamara Luria: was captured, which hardened her and showed her that she didn't really need anyone. Also had children with Herman.
Masha Tortshiner: a concentration camp survivor, was conniving and self-serving, also had an affair with Herman and killed herself at the end of the book. She was also pregnant.




Conflicts in Novel:
One of the major conflicts in Enemies, A Love Story would be when Herman finds himself with three wives. This happenes because when Herman thought that Tamara was dead but in fact she was still alive. Also Herman could not stay faithfull to Yadwiga Not surprisingly, he is an unhappy man. In order to find happiness with any of them, he would have to make some kind of a commitment, and he is not capable of that. Another conflict in the novel was between Herman and Leon (Masha's former husband) when they met up at the cafetieria and had a long discussion about what has happened between Herman, Masha, and Leon.



Literary Devices:
Foreshadowing:
The title Enemies, A Love Story foreshadows what is going to happen in the novel. It shows that the even though the 3 wives are enemies they all have love for Herman. Also it foreshadows that the love story would be complicated due to the fact Herman cant be faithful.




Literary Criticism:
Isaac Bashevis Singer "gives critics grounds for interpretations or points of emphasis that are divergent to the point of being contrary", says critic Dinah Pladott. This critic seems to think that Singer has little in common with his other books, such as the plots of Enemies, A Love Story and The Magician of Lublin. He also says that Singer's stories first impress the reader with the writer's storytelling capacity. Singer also takes his characters from his different novels and makes them have similarities such as Yasha from Shosha and Herman from this novel. Pladott also said that "in Enemies, A Love Story, Singer dangerously courts such misreading. He does not merely reiterate the Don Juan configuration, spiced as it is with titillating scenes of sensuality and eroticism. He even ascribed to Herman ruminations, attitudes, and queries that echo almost verbatim similar passages attributed to the other Don Juans. One is immediately reminded of Aaron upon reading Herman's philosophizing, which posits the Don Juan's double- dealings as the hedonistic response to the universal Nothingness". The conclusion of the novel relates to the conclusion of The Slave which shows that the endings of his novels are somewhat the same whcih shows they have more in common than the eye can see.

Personal Review:
Overall I thought the novel was very good. The novel caught my attention with the drama Herman Broder goes through. Also with the intensifying plot it makes you want to keep reading the book. Not only did the novel catch my attention but also the storyline and the comparison to real life. This book has made me look differently at Holocaust survivors, and realize the pain the had to go through. Not only during the war but after as well. Broder has trouble focusing on what is real and what isn't. he hears Nazi voices in his head all the time and cant seem to realize that is just his head messing with him. Not only does Broder have to deal with that but also he has to deal with the drama of being married to three wives. In some way this novel can relate to regular people and the difficulties it takes to be in different relationships at different times. This book would be good as a requirement for high school students to read when they are in the world literature section. The novel brings meaning to the Holocaust, and a better understanding to ones who might not understand what people had to go through.


Author Biography:
I.B. Singer was born on July 14, 1904 in Radzymin, Poland. He was an Polish- Ameexternal image imagesinger.jpgrican author who was admired for his re-creation of the forgotten world of provinical 19-th century Poland and his depiction of a timeless Jewish ghetto existence. After he was groomed for
Hasidism, he decided he on a writing career. When he finishes his seminary studies he went on to work as a journalist for the Yiddish
press in various parts of Poland. Singer emigrated to the United States in 1935 and became a reporter for the Daily Forward in New York
City, also know as Americas largest Yiddish newspaper. Singer received many awards throughout the later portion of his life; some
include the Nobel Prize in literature (1978) and the Gold Medal for Fiction (1989). He continued to publish new material untill his
passing in 1991.



Bibliography:

  • "Isaac Bashevis Singer." American Decades. Gale Research, 1998. Biography Resource Center. Web. 3 May 2010.

  • "Isaac Bashevis Singer." Authors and Artists for Young Adults. Vol. 32. Gale Group, 2000. Biography Resource Center. Web. 3 May 2010.

  • Pladott, Dinah. "Casanova or Schlemiel? The Don Juan Archetype in I. B. Singer's Fiction." Yiddish Summer-fall 6.2-3 (1985): 55-71. Contemporary Literary Criticism. Web. 5 May 2010.

  • Klein, Leonard S. "Singer, Isaac Bashevis." Encyclopedia of World Literature in the 20th Century. 2nd ed. Vol. 4:R to Z. New York: Continuum Publ. Comp., 1984. 234-37. Print. 3 May 2010.