The Uncivil Servant: Looking in on Western Literature

BOOKS ABOUT BOOKS by Mitchell Abidor Discussed in this essay: Essays on World Literature by Ismail Kadare, translated by Ani Kokobobo, Restless Books, 2018, 255 pages; The Wild Book by Juan Villoro, translated by Lawrence Schimel, Restless Books, 2017, 232 pages.   IT SOUNDS like damning with faint praise to call Ismail Kadare the greatest Albanian novelist, […]

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Samplings from the New York Jewish Film Festival

by Mitchell Abidor   THE ALWAYS INTERESTING New York Jewish Film Festival will be running from January 10 to January 23 at the Film Society of Lincoln Center. Information on screenings can be found at nyjff.org. What follows is just a sample of the riches on view. The Romanian director Radu Jude is one of the […]

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Brownshirt Violence and the Nazi Machine

by Mitchell Abidor Discussed in this essay: Stormtroopers: A New History of Hitler’s Brownshirts by Daniel Siemens. Yale University Press, 2017, 459 pages.   OUR DOMINANT image of the German streets, both during the rise to power of the Nazi Party and while it ruled, is of jack-booted men in brown uniforms beating opponents, threatening Jews, […]

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The Uncivil Servant: Refugee Children and Their Teacher

by Mitchell Abidor   NICOLAS PHILIBERT’S 2002 To Be and To Have was a moving documentary about the students and teacher in a one-room schoolhouse in rural France. This lovely film, a deservedly huge success, was in a way a vision of both France past and the mythical eternal France — the students white, the teacher dealing, at worst, with […]

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The Uncivil Servant: Diaries of Doomed Writers

by Mitchell Abidor Discussed in this essay: Earthly Signs: Moscow Diaries 1917-1922 by Marina Tsetaeva, translated by Jamey Gambrell. NYRB Classics, 2017, 248 pages; and The Diaries of Emilio Renzi by Ricardo Piglia, translated by Robert Croll. Restless Books, 2017, 448 pages.   MARINA TSETAEVA (1892-1941) was part of the remarkable generation of Russian poets who had […]

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The Uncivil Servant: Oliver Sacks’s Fabulous Mind

by Mitchell Abidor Discussed in this essay: The River of Consciousness by Oliver Sacks. Alfred A. Knopf, 2017, 237 pages; Oliver Sacks: The Last Interview, Melville House, 2016, 100 pages; Insomniac City by Bill Hayes, Bloomsbury, 2017, 291 pages.   WHEN OLIVER SACKS died in 2015, he left instructions with three friends for the assembling of what is (perhaps) […]

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