A Jew Must Die

Jacques Ches­sex; W. Don­ald Wil­son, trans.
  • Review
By – August 31, 2011
What is hor­ror?” This emo­tion­al novel­la, a cri de coeur from the emi­nent Swiss writer Jacques Ches­sex, looks unflinch­ing­ly at this ques­tion in the con­text of a hor­rif­ic crime that took place dur­ing the author’s child­hood: the mur­der of respect­ed Jew­ish cat­tle deal­er Arthur Bloch by Swiss Nazi thugs. In spare, stark prose inter­spersed with poet­ic descrip­tions of the idyl­lic Pay­erne coun­try­side, the author paints a har­row­ing por­trait of inex­orable hatred. Years lat­er, when he con­fronts the hate-mon­ger who gave the go-ahead for the mur­der, he reflects, “…there is such a thing as total depravity…and it is a kind of damna­tion.” Anguished by the evil of the Holo­caust, the author says that “…redemp­tion is so remote.” Yet this heart­felt remem­brance is an elo­quent first step in that very direction.
Shi­ra R. Lon­don is the librar­i­an at Beth Tfiloh Dahan Com­mu­ni­ty High School in Bal­ti­more, MD. She holds an M.L.S. from Colum­bia University.

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