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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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“Mendele the Book Peddler”

The birth in 1836 of Mendele Moykher-Sforim (“Mendele the Book Peddler,” pen-name of Sholem Yankev Abramovitsh), the pioneering writer of modern Yiddish literature, is traditionally marked on this date. (“[W]e Jews did not bother about [dates of birth], especially in the small towns,” Mendele wrote in a memoir, “[b]ut . . . my family decided on […]

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My Path to Atheism

by Alan Rutkowski I RECENTLY HAD an epiphany: I don’t believe in God. For a very long time — most of my life, actually — I sort of thought I did. Religion has played a big part in my life. For some reason my mother, who was not religious at all, sent my sister and […]

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September 26: Trying to Convert the Pope

Abraham Abulafia, a Spain-born mystic, kabbalist, and self-declared messiah who went to Rome in 1280 to attempt to convert Pope Nicholas III to Judaism, was released from after a month in prison on this date in that year. Hearing of Abulafia’s intention, the pope had issued orders to have him burned at the stake upon […]

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