Book Review: The Dybbuk and Other Writings by S. Ansky

19120563Title: The Dybbuk and Other Writings

Author: S. Ansky

Genre: Drama, Horror, Historical Fiction

Age Group: Adult

Rating: 4 stars

Purchase: Amazon

Review copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

S. Ansky played a seminal role in the establishment of modern Jewish fiction. This generous collection of his work includes the classic drama, The Dybbuk, a haunting tale of ill-fated love, possession, and exorcism in an Eastern European village.

All right, so I’m probably one of the few people who hadn’t heard of S. Ansky before reading this collection. Shame on me, I know. Anyway, The Dybbuk is actual a theatre play based on a folklore story S. Ansky gathered info for during his travels. The story is about a young bride who is possessed by a dybbuk – this can best be compared to an evil spirit, or demon. Her name is Leah’le, and she went to the graveyard before her wedding day, where not only she invited her mother’s spirit to attend the marriage, but also the spirits of a young couple who were murdered before their wedding could be consummated. She’s also drawn to one other grave, that of Hannan, a young scholar who as in love with her, and wanted her hand in marriage, but was refused so by her father.

Leah’le comes back from the graveyard a changed woman. A local sage tries to exorcise the Dybbuk who has possessed her, but fails, and is forced to call in the help of the rabbi. The rabbi decides that Leah’le’s father must appear before the court of rabbis, apparently upon the request of the spirit of Hannan’s father. What follows is a trial half debated in the world of the living, and half in the spirit world.

It’s certainly an intriguing story, and I wished I could’ve seen the actual play. This sounds right up my alley. I enjoyed reading it here though, but it must’ve been even more intriguing to see it on stage.

This collection also features other stories by S. Ansky, but the Dybbuk was by far the most notable one. If you’re a fan of historical fiction, mysticism and paranormal stories, then you’ll probably enjoy The Dybbuk and Other Writings.

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