Life with a Star

Overview


In Nazi-occupied Prague, ex-bank clerk Josef Roubick discovers that the prosaic world he has always inhabited is suddenly off-limits to him because he is a Jew. When he begins to observe his new, increasingly skewed, and macabre environment with resigned detachment, his life becomes centered on survival and on the surprisingly small things he clings to in order to persevere.

Weil was one of the best-known writers in Central Europe...

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Overview


In Nazi-occupied Prague, ex-bank clerk Josef Roubick discovers that the prosaic world he has always inhabited is suddenly off-limits to him because he is a Jew. When he begins to observe his new, increasingly skewed, and macabre environment with resigned detachment, his life becomes centered on survival and on the surprisingly small things he clings to in order to persevere.

Weil was one of the best-known writers in Central Europe in the 1930s and in the immediate postwar years. This novel, based on his experiences living in hiding from the Nazis, is an extraordinary work of fiction and an important testimony to the Holocaust.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
This slim, wartime classic was written in the mid-1940s when the author's experiences during the Holocaust were still fresh; the ``star'' of the title refers of course to the Star of David European Jews under Hitler were forced to wear. It opens as the narrator, a former bank teller named Josef Roubicek, is waiting to be called up for deportation to Terezin, the notorious concentration camp in eastern Czechoslovakia. Instead, he is given a ``classification four''--unsuited to hard labor--and is assigned by the authorities to sweep leaves in a Prague cemetery. Here, Roubicek begins a surreal existence as the author contrasts the peacefulness of the cemetery with the increasing persecution of the Jews still left in the city. A weak, vacillating character at the start of the narrative, Roubicek matures. Unlike many friends who contemplate suicide, he decides to embrace hope--and life--and with the help of a resistance fighter goes underground. Weil 1900-1959 builds his drama through a series of telling vignettes; in one pathetic scene a doll cries ``Mama'' as toys of Jewish children are carted off to a warehouse. Powerful, yet small in scope, this is as much an indictment of materialism--and greed--as it is a chilling portrait of Nazi-occupied Prague. In the preface, Roth explains how he was made aware of this ``outstanding'' book. He was in strumental in its publication here. June
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780810116856
  • Publisher: Northwestern University Press
  • Publication date: 11/28/1998
  • Series: Jewish Lives
  • Edition description: 1
  • Pages: 224
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.75 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author


Jiri Weil was a major Czech writer in the 1930s but is most widely known today of his two postwar works LIFE WITH A STAR and MENDELSOHN IS ON THE ROOF. In 1942 he was summoned for transport to a concentration camp with the rest of Prague Jewry but managed to escape and hide for the duration of the war. He died in Prague in 1959.
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