A Novel by the sister of Isaac Bashevis Singer By Esther Singer Kreitman Translated by: Maurice Carr (328 Pages)Publisher: The Feminist Press at CUNY, 2009
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".
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 US as Deborah, The Dance of the Demons, it now includes Singer family photos and memorial pieces by Kreitman's son and granddaughter. Introduction by Ilan Stavans, Afterword by Anita Norich.