Out of the Depths & Oth­er Stories

Yosef Haim Bren­ner; David Pat­ter­son and Ezra Spice­han­dler, trans.
  • Review
By – January 30, 2012
Yosef Haim Bren­ner wrote most­ly in Hebrew and often based his fic­tion on his own expe­ri­ences and the mis­eries endured by Jews in Rus­sia at the begin­ning of the 20th cen­tu­ry, such as the ter­ri­ble ordeal of a Jew draft­ed — as he was — into the Czar’s army, and the poi­so­nous anti-Semi­tism that was a fact of army life. He paints a stark pic­ture of what it was like to be incar­cer­at­ed in Russ­ian jails, and he vivid­ly describes the ter­ror expe­ri­enced by those who tried to escape across the bor­der, know­ing that one false move could mean death. Bren­ner moved to Pales­tine in 1910 after liv­ing for three years in London’s East End (the set­ting of the final sto­ry in the col­lec­tion) and was trag­i­cal­ly mur­dered by Arab riot­ers in 1921. His anguished prose and haunt­ing por­tray­al of an extra­or­di­nary cast of char­ac­ters is a unique con­tri­bu­tion to Hebrew lit­er­a­ture of the ear­ly 20th cen­tu­ry. Biog­ra­phy, intros to the stories.
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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