By Leonard Unger
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Additional resources for AMERICAN WRITERS, Volume 4
Singer best sums up his intent by observing that "It is not child's play to be born, to marry, to bring forth generations, to grow old, to die. '5 Nor can a critic's carpings diminish them. Singer again delineates with authority and fidelity the ethos of a time and people known and imagined and now irretrievably lost. Such qualities result only when a creative imagination has utilized fully a sensitive insider's knowledge and a disciplined artist's perspective. In The Stance (1968), Singer concentrates more on th^ old and dying than on babies or brides.
Wealthy, stubborn, patriarchal Reb Meshulam Moskat dominates the early chapters and the small army of heirs waiting impatiently as he lives on into his eighties. Linked to their discarded pieties by social and emotional ties, the Moskats are denied full participation in Polish life not only by laws and prejudices but by their own religious taboos, intrigues, and delusions. In Singer's world few receive what they expect. When finally Reb Meshulam dies, the Moskats experience not quick riches but rapid disintegration of individual and family life.
His critics, Singer seems to imply, might give thought to this grim eventuality. Aging survivors and fading memories trace the Jewish world Singer remembers. Writing as if this world still lives, he rejects the charge that his literary stance is artificial. "After all," he asks, "what could be more artificial than marriage? . Every man assumes he will go on living. He behaves as if he will never die. . It's very natural and healthy. . " Time only intensifies his efforts to give his world new, enduring life by his fiction.
AMERICAN WRITERS, Volume 4 by Leonard Unger