The Dance of the Demons

The Dance of the Demons


Esther Singer Kreitman
A semi-autobiographical portrait of "Yentl" and the eccentric Singer family.

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Paperback Edition
ISBN: 9781558615953
Publication Date: 05-01-2009

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Translated by Maurice Carr
Introduction by Ilan Stavans
Afterword by Anita Norich
With contributions from Hazel Karr

The Dance of the Demons is a major literary rediscovery. In her daring autobiographical novel, originally published in Yiddish as Der Sheydim Tanz in 1936, Kreitman vividly and lovingly depicts the world of Polish shtetls and Jewish Warsaw that many have come to know through the books of her famous literary brothers, Israel Joshua and Nobel-Prize winner Isaac Bashevis Singer. Replete with rabbis, yeshiva students, beggars, farmers, gangsters, seamstresses, and socialists, this world looks radically different through the eyes of a sister, who was I. B. Singer's inspiration for the story "Yentl, the Yeshiva Boy."

Deborah (Kreitman's fictional self) is barred from the studies at which her idealistic rabbi father and precocious brother excel. She revels in the books she hides behind the kitchen stove, in her brief forays outside the household, and in her clandestine attraction to a young Warsaw rebel. But her family confines and blunts her dreams, as they navigate the constraints of Jewish life in a world that tolerates, but does not approve, their presence. Forced into an arranged marriage, Deborah runs away from her new home on the eve of World War I. Epic in scope, this neglected youthful masterpiece provides a shattering vision of a lost world, and reveals the fate of women in a contradictory time, where age-old tradition scraped against modernity.

Originally published in the United States as Deborah, The Dance of the Demons now includes memorial pieces by Kreitman's son and granddaughter.