Overview



This remarkable memoir, by a distinguished historian, grows out of the loose framework of a diary written in Israel during the tense last few months of 1977.  In a series of flashbacks, Saul Friedlander evokes with painful clarity and candor his extraordinary childhood and adolescence, beginning in a comfortable, middle-class, assimilated Jewish home in the Prague of the 1930's, and extending through and beyond the harrowing, and permanent, separation from his parents in Nazi-dominated France.  ...
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When Memory Comes

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Overview



This remarkable memoir, by a distinguished historian, grows out of the loose framework of a diary written in Israel during the tense last few months of 1977.  In a series of flashbacks, Saul Friedlander evokes with painful clarity and candor his extraordinary childhood and adolescence, beginning in a comfortable, middle-class, assimilated Jewish home in the Prague of the 1930's, and extending through and beyond the harrowing, and permanent, separation from his parents in Nazi-dominated France.  Though fascinating in themselves, on a deeper level the reminiscences raise questions about much more than one man's life.  In forcing himself to go back and examine his past, to seek out reasons and feelings, Friedlander is asking what it is that motivates a Zionist.  What does it mean to be a Jew in Israel now?  Where are the roots of a people with a history of rootlessness?
Pavel Friedlander, as he was then known, was seven when the family fled Czechoslovakia in 1939.  Before they were herded away to desruction, his parents were able to leave their ten-year-old boy in a Catholic seminary.  Baptized Paul-Henri, he excelled in his studies and was headed for the priesthood.  In his unsentimental, delicate, and precise narrative, we see through the boy's eyes the seminary's chilly dormitories and the hot, dusty fields of a provincial French summer.
Then comes the Liberation.  Paul-Henri rediscovers his identity and in 1948, on the brink of his high-school graduation, runs away to Marseilles to board ship for the nascent state of Israel--one of the survivors on the ill-fated Altalena.  He now takes his Hebrew name, Shaul.
Thirty years later, in bringing the disparate threads of memories together, Friedlander unflinchingly expresses the dilemmas in which any thinking person must feel himself vis-a-vis Israel and the Jews.  His doubts are unresolved and probably unresolvable.  But in an entirely fresh and poignant way Saul Friedlander has given us a better understanding of them.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Friedländer undertakes an evocative journey into his past that is likely to leave many a reader shaken."—Amos Elon, New York Times Book Review

"A beautifully written (and beautifully translated) memoir of a tragic childhood."— New Yorker

"A work of eloquence and compassion."—John Skow,Time

    "A tender elegy which moves from the Israeli present to the European past, from fear to memory, in a mosaic of Proustian images."—New Republic

"The most remarkable feature of When Memory Comes is its composure, an elegance that is unnerving. Friedländer describes his experiences in lean, graceful sentences; his language seems armored against the dissolution it describes."—Leon Wieseltier, The New York Review of Books

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780374709525
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
  • Publication date: 6/1/1991
  • Sold by: Macmillan
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 192
  • Sales rank: 859,015
  • File size: 203 KB

Meet the Author



Saul Friedlander returned to Europe for advanced study in political science.  He has written many articles and books, including Pius XII and the Third Reich; Prelude to Downfall: Hitler and the United States 1939-1941; and, most recently, History and Psychoanalysis.  He divides his time as a professor of history between Tel Aviv University and the Graduate Institute of International Studies in Geneva.
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