[PDF] The Conversion By Aharon Appelfeld – Natus-physiotherapy.co.uk


The Conversion Our Story Opens In An Austrian City, Two Generations Before The Holocaust, Where Almost All Of The Jews Have Converted To Christianity Today The Church Bells Are Pealing For Karl, An Ambitious Young Civil Servant Whose Conversion Will Clear His Path To A Coveted High Government Post Karl S Future Looks Bright, But With His Promotion Comes A Political Crisis That Turns His Conversion Into A Baptism By Fire, Unexpectedly Reuniting Karl With His Past And Forcing Him To Take A Stand He Could Never Have Imagined

  • Paperback
  • 240 pages
  • The Conversion
  • Aharon Appelfeld
  • English
  • 07 May 2019
  • 0805210989

About the Author: Aharon Appelfeld

AHARON APPELFELD is the author ofthan forty works of fiction and nonfiction, including Until the Dawn s Light and The Iron Tracks both winners of the National Jewish Book Award and The Story of a Life winner of the Prix M dicis tranger Other honors he has received include the Giovanni Bocaccio Literary Prize, the Nelly Sachs Prize, the Israel Prize, the Bialik Prize, the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize, and the MLA Commonwealth Award He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and has received honorary degrees from the Jewish Theological Seminary, Hebrew Union College Jewish Institute of Religion, and Yeshiva University.



10 thoughts on “The Conversion

  1. says:

    A numbing and depressive, but altogether an excellently sharp and bracing book Aharon Appelfeld s The Conversion is written as both the story of an individual and as a parable metaphor likened to the fighting of the tides or the efforts of rational but flawed people in the early stages of an horrific catastrophe.Among the Israeli writers I ve read so far Oz, Yehoshua, a bit of Kaniuk and Agnon, as well as Keret Appelfeld distinguishes himself from the rest, at least I can say in this work a A numbing and depressive, but altogether an excellently sharp and bracing book Aharon Appelfeld s The Conversion is written as both the story of an individual and as a parable metaphor likened to the fighting of the tides or the efforts of rational but flawed people in the early stages of an horrific catastrophe.Among the Israeli writers I ve read so far Oz, Yehoshua, a bit of Kaniuk and Agnon, as well as Keret Appelfeld distinguishes himself from the rest, at least I can say in this work as this is the first of his I ve read, in writing about the past of Jews and Judaism as opposed to the Jews and Judaism of Israel s present Eschewing politics and absolutist judgments so prevalent among those who look upon history especially Jewish history in exile the diaspora as something to be downplayed, ignored, re written, or even just spat upon, by offering no easy answers to complicated and dire circumstances.The protagonist of the novel, Karl, is a convert from Judaism to Christianity, in an Austrian town where most of the Jews have indeed converted as well The circumstances regarding his conversion are social and bureaucratic, he basically wishes to ease the friction in his life engendered by his being Jewish in a non Jewish world and rise up the ranks in the municipal government Appelfeld neither condemns nor condones this decision rather he, very wisely, leaves it to the reader to decide for a time He Appelfeld offers the readers multiple perspectives on judgment regarding the conversion, there are the Jews who are rightly disgusted by the apostates and consider them something less than human, animal even yet who offer nothing in the way of consolation or sympathy And, given the circumstances again, Appelfeld shows the justifications for the act of conversion, less as a solution, butas a grasping at straws move of desperation for an oppressed people to, basically, live like human beings, in the voices and characters of not only those who also converted, but of those who do possessthan an iota of human compassion and the capacity to understand One of the funnier aspects of the novel black comedy without a doubt that arises from all this is the actual NON IMPORTANCE of religion, but rather the corresponding label that each religious title stamps into each person, essentially the title of the big them and the little us , silent and ambivalent many times malicious majority and cornered and frightened and cutting and brutal in its own way minority.The apostate Jews in this story are shown as being part of a fringe state Hated by many of their own and still distrusted by those they ve tried to appease, they become a smaller minority within an already microcosmic minority.Like I said before no easy answers are given to Karl s situation Needless to say without giving away the events of the plot or the story s conclusion, things end very grimly But to depict the end of these characters in any other way would have certainly rung false and come off as something like a sad and cheap attempt at revisionist history fairy tale creation Appelfeld hits hard in this book, sparing little and showing a cold time in history for all involved A great and haunting story, at times even seeming necessary no matter the brutality of the content

  2. says:

    I must admit that it took me some time to understand where this book was going, but then it all becomes clear The Austro Hungarian Empire is disintegrating We don t know when the history takes place, but it s certainly in the last years of the Empire In the towns of Austria, some Jews are merchants and despised by many, but many others are secular and slowly are converting into Catholicism for practical reasons or to get rid of the strictures of a religious life Karl is a successful public s I must admit that it took me some time to understand where this book was going, but then it all becomes clear The Austro Hungarian Empire is disintegrating We don t know when the history takes place, but it s certainly in the last years of the Empire In the towns of Austria, some Jews are merchants and despised by many, but many others are secular and slowly are converting into Catholicism for practical reasons or to get rid of the strictures of a religious life Karl is a successful public servant, non observant and ambitious He converts only to start a journey into his Jewishness It is the maid, a girl from the provinces, meaning Ruthenia in her case, not much older than Karl, who will be the trigger of his progressive change into a defender of the poor Jews against the racism they suffer The rest is a descent into hell, into bellicosity and a violence in him that contrasts with the meek acceptation of the observant Jews I had some difficulty accepting the American like violence in the late Karl, but couldn t forget the violence lived by the author in his own life But stillAll in all, it is a good depiction of the situation of the Jews in both an urban and a rural environment and opens the door to an aftermath of pogroms and, eventually, the elimination of most of the communities dispersed across the Empires of the day

  3. says:

    I have read several other books by Appelfeld and this was not a favorite It was thought provoking but he has said what he is saying here better in other novels I do admire his style though restrained, elliptical, spare.

  4. says:

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers To view it, click here Personally I found it as the most painful read of all Appelfeld novels, but also one of his best.As the story develops and the main character realises the true import of his apostasy, he starts rediscovering his roots, whilst realising how he is now perceived by most Christians and Jews alike.He s man who has to live mostly alone, making the most of the odd encounter with his few old friends, which he rediscovers The flashbacks to his youth and the present demeanour of his friends is partly jus Personally I found it as the most painful read of all Appelfeld novels, but also one of his best.As the story develops and the main character realises the true import of his apostasy, he starts rediscovering his roots, whilst realising how he is now perceived by most Christians and Jews alike.He s man who has to live mostly alone, making the most of the odd encounter with his few old friends, which he rediscovers The flashbacks to his youth and the present demeanour of his friends is partly just a reflection on ageing but also on the impact of apostasy on their lives and their relations with the world around them that has changed for the worst He finds comfort and love unexpectedly and from a woman that is not Jewish but embodies Judaism values in whatever form she can emulate the practices she was imbued with, living in a Jewish family, thus carrying on the spiritual heritage of his ancestors and his parents that he did not embrace, Their relationship is at odds with his social standing as everything else from his past.At the cost of losing his identity and acceptance as a convert he pursues generous acts of civic duty, and heroism in his own small town finally escapism lets him breath in a sense of freedom and redemption for a short while eventually in the new idyllic settings he can t tolerate his isolation and can only find some solace in the village tavern, where his further degradation is inexorable, and from where he pursues his own hopeless lonely battle against antisemitism and social injustice, as even there the sentiments of envy and hate run high, and violence and danger are evenpresent than in his old town, it is a recurrent them in the author novels Through all this his companion faithfully stays at his side, unable to change the course of the events, but making a substantial difference, as through all his emotional upheavals and radical decisions she is undoubtedly the unspoken source of his daring and the reason to hope to find a way out of the morass he had found himself.Would the character life have panned out differently had he succeeded to study at university in the capital and avoided the trap of a secure position in the bureaucracy of the town administration It would have but probably it would not have brought to the fore his firm resolution to champion injustice and his insuppressible urge to turn the tables and go against all he accepted for the sake of his career at the expense of his moral and spiritual dimension.I thought that the character of the parish priest would have been dealtharshly but he his not it isthe prevalent social order and example, and maybe pressure, of of other converts that did tilt the balance in the main character s case he seems to be critical of father Mercer only later on when he finds out about the conversion of a very old woman, which seemed to him unnecessary and showed the real pursuit for Jewish souls of the priest

  5. says:

    As with Appelfeld s other books this one portrays the struggles Jews face in a hostile and at times dangerous world In this instance the setting is a small town in late 19th early 20th century Austria where most of the younger generation of educated Jewish men who have ambitions to succeed in their careers and to be accepted by mainstream Christian society leave their Jewish faith and convert to the Church Over the course of the book Appelfeld powerfully portrays the price that 3 of these men, As with Appelfeld s other books this one portrays the struggles Jews face in a hostile and at times dangerous world In this instance the setting is a small town in late 19th early 20th century Austria where most of the younger generation of educated Jewish men who have ambitions to succeed in their careers and to be accepted by mainstream Christian society leave their Jewish faith and convert to the Church Over the course of the book Appelfeld powerfully portrays the price that 3 of these men, as well as some other lesser characters, pay for their fateful decision For some it is their physical health For others it is their mental health and their spiritual well being Without giving away too much of the drama of the book I can note that none of them escape the far reaching consequences of their fateful decision The prose in this book is as straightforward and clear as his other ones are In this case, Appelfeld might have done a littleediting Or perhaps the translation wassuccessful This is because this book s style is a bit smoother and easier to read than some of his others He provides just enough description of his characters for the reader to grasp them and their struggles but not so much as to get embroiled in a lot of detail If anything I wish he had provided a littleof their history in that regard The topics covered and the characters lives, however, are still just as thought provoking and, in some ways, distressing as they are in his other books Appelfeld doesn t shy away from how hard it was to be a Jew in Europe For that he deserves kudos and, in this instance, a 4.5 rating

  6. says:

    One of Appelfeld s most brilliant allegories and a play on the early century encouraged conversion of diaspora Jews to Christianity So much for the current times both the political and the personal Don t blame the minorities, they re human beings too they have sleepless nights and aches and pains But they re the children of satan There are no children of Satan, There are good people and bad people What are you Mister, an Austrian or a Jew I m a human being But the personal is so much m One of Appelfeld s most brilliant allegories and a play on the early century encouraged conversion of diaspora Jews to Christianity So much for the current times both the political and the personal Don t blame the minorities, they re human beings too they have sleepless nights and aches and pains But they re the children of satan There are no children of Satan, There are good people and bad people What are you Mister, an Austrian or a Jew I m a human being But the personal is so muchaffecting This wasn t the city he once loved From every corner a drunken or wicked face popped up He lost faith in the possibility of doing good and being rewarded for it He saw the other officials as a buzzing swarm of bees that stood in the way of the public good

  7. says:

    After reading this book, I m not sure what to think about it I can say that it was a pretty easy read with heavy themes It was kind of like a combination of Kafka, 1984, and Catch 22 though I haven t read that one yet The author offers perspective, though he a was born about a generation later, on what it was like to live as a Jew in the early 20th century before the Great Wars and I m not sure that I really ever thought about what it would be like to live then and there before.As an aside, After reading this book, I m not sure what to think about it I can say that it was a pretty easy read with heavy themes It was kind of like a combination of Kafka, 1984, and Catch 22 though I haven t read that one yet The author offers perspective, though he a was born about a generation later, on what it was like to live as a Jew in the early 20th century before the Great Wars and I m not sure that I really ever thought about what it would be like to live then and there before.As an aside, I was also amused that the protagonist had the same last name as me, which my father s side of the family had adopted so as to appear less conspicuous to the rising anti Semitism of mid 20th century Europe

  8. says:

    Thought it was thought provoking, I did not love this book I know history wrote the end of the novel, yet I felt unsatisfied I kept expecting something huge to happen, some grandiose action to be taken and yet it never was Plus the nanny man child relationship irked me just a bit, and this was the sensational love story aspect of the book

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