The Healer

Overview

Felix Katz is an assimilated Viennese who hates believing Jews. He travels with his daughter to a small Carpathian village in search of help for her emotional illness, only to learn that the healer is an old rabbi. Unable to bear this passionate religiosity, Felix suffers six snowbound months in the village, becoming further alienated from his family, and finally returns to a Vienna plagued by the same anti-Semitism that has poisoned his own heart.
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Overview

Felix Katz is an assimilated Viennese who hates believing Jews. He travels with his daughter to a small Carpathian village in search of help for her emotional illness, only to learn that the healer is an old rabbi. Unable to bear this passionate religiosity, Felix suffers six snowbound months in the village, becoming further alienated from his family, and finally returns to a Vienna plagued by the same anti-Semitism that has poisoned his own heart.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Narrated with the ever-expanding significance of a parable and the disarming simplicity of a folk tale, this novel of family life in pre-WW II Vienna by the accomplished Israeli author ( For Every Sin ) explores the complex web of emotions binding Felix, a testy but thriving factory owner; his wife, Henrietta, from whom he feels estranged; and their children. Karl, physically adept, is failing in school; his father denies him the military academy training he desires. Helga, a gifted pianist, develops neurotic symptoms that no doctor--not even ``one of Professor Jung's assistants''--can cure. Though no longer practicing Jews, the four make a pilgrimage, for Helga's sake, to a remote Jewish hamlet in the Carpathian Mountains, near Henrietta's ancestral home, to consult an old man reputed to be a healer. There they pass six snowed-in months at a lavish inn. Felix eats and idles, scornful of what he views as quackery. He picks fights and reflects on his empty life while his wife and daughter heed the sage's counsel to pray and study the ``bright, holy letters'' of Scripture. Felix's efforts to leave the mountain for his beloved city, where anti-Semitism is already rife, bestow a tragic irony on the close of this resonant work. (June)
Library Journal
The eighth of Appelfeld's novels to be translated into English, this work concerns the futility of denying who we are. Felix Katz is an ``assimilated Jew,'' so when his daughter becomes ill and conventional treatment fails, he only reluctantly agrees to journey with his family from Vienna to the Carpathian Mountains to seek out a holy man, renowned as a healer. The healer's prescription? A prayerbook and the admonition that ``the girl must be taught these bright holy letters.'' While his wife and daughter begin a journey back to their Jewish roots, Felix and his son remain aloof, finally returning to Vienna. Yet for all Felix's attempts to deny his ``Jewishness,'' a policeman on the train home notes that his Jewish name is ``annoying.'' It is a hint of what awaits--a Holocaust that cares little about faithfulness or faithlessness, only names. As is typical of Appelfeld's work, much is left unstated. Essential for most libraries.-- David W. Henderson, Eckerd Coll. Lib., St. Petersburg, Fla.
Lore Segal
Mr. Appelfeld's novels propose different hopes of salvation, none of which are going to work out. Shall we be safe and whole if we come home to the tradition, if we rejoin our ancestors? Who is on the right road?....Mr. Appelfeld never gives us an ending but leaves us off at the very entrance to the nightmare from which we have only recently awakened. -- New York Times
Judith Colt
"A masterfull storyteller." -- The Washington Times
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780802133571
  • Publisher: Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
  • Publication date: 4/28/1994
  • Series: Appelfeld, Aharon Series
  • Pages: 224
  • Product dimensions: 5.39 (w) x 7.93 (h) x 0.60 (d)

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