Isaac Bashevis Singer was a Jewish-American writer, famous as a journalist, novelist, short-story writer, and essayist. He once wrote: "The very essence of literature is the war between emotion and intellect, between life and death. When literature becomes too intellectual - when it begins to ignore the passions, the emotions - it becomes sterile, silly, and actually without substance."
Amidst the passion and emotion, we encounter temptation: the lure of power and money, the demands of lust and obsession. Isaac Bashevis Singer wrote about ghosts, demons and spectres; but he also makes us believe, perhaps that anything is possible.
Then, those fantastic tales begin to seem almost ordinary. The plot draw us in. They're stimulating and fascinating--even funny--as those hosts of Tricksters, innocents, whores and fools march across the stage. It takes all kinds, as Singer explores the often-brutal realities of humanity.
Singer wrote, "The storyteller and poet of our time, as in any other time, must be an entertainer of the spirit in the full sense of the word, not just a preacher of social or political ideals."
As Editor for the Library of America collection of Singer's short stories, Ilan Stavans wrote, "Literature ought to simultaneously entertain and enlighten. It shouldn't be solipsistic, creating a world so abstract, so hermetic, so remote, it's impossible for average readers to penetrate it. Literature should also be a statement of who we are at this particular time: how do we understand the world and how does the word understand us? What makes us happy and what frighten us?"
What frightens you? Are there books--filled passion and substance--that have made you feel alive?
ęCover Art, Library of America.