The End of Everything

The End of Everything

Copyright Date: 2009
Published by: Yale University Press
Pages: 256
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    The End of Everything
    Book Description:

    Originally published in 1913,When All Is Said and Doneis one of the great novels of the twentieth century. Considered David Bergelson's masterpiece, it was written in Yiddish and until now has been unavailable in a complete and accurate English translation. This version by acclaimed translator Joseph Sherman finally brings the novel to a wide English-speaking audience.

    Bergelson depicts the lives of upwardly mobile, self-awarenouveaux richeJews in the waning years of the Russian Empire. The central character, Mirel Hurvits, is an educated, beautiful woman who embodies the conflict between tradition and progress, aristocracy and enterprise. A forced marriage of convenience results in Mirel's emotional disintegration and provokes a confrontation with the expectations of her pious family and with Jewish tradition. In a unique prose style of unsurpassable range and beauty, Bergelson reduces language to its bare essentials, punctuated by silences that heighten the sense of alienation in the story.

    eISBN: 978-0-300-15496-2
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Introduction
    (pp. vii-xlvi)

    Shortly before world war and revolution swept away the established European sociopolitical order, the year 1913 brought to public attention a number of significant works of twentieth-century art. No sooner had the Armory Show, which exposed American viewers for the first time to Impressionist, Cubist, and Fauve painting, distressed New York conservatives in February, thanThe Rite of Spring, a modernist ballet composed by Igor Stravinsky (1882–1971) and staged by Sergei Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes, caused a riot at its premiere in Paris in May. During the rest of the year, many lovers of literature were shocked by the appearance...

  4. Part 1 Velvl Burnes
    (pp. 1-20)

    For four long years the provincial, small-town engagement dragged on between them, and ended in the following way.

    She, Reb* Gedalye Hurvits’s only child Mirele, eventually returned the betrothal contract and once more took to keeping company with the crippled student Lipkis.

    The rejected fiancé’s nouveau-riche father, enormously wealthy and genteelly taciturn, constantly paced about in his study with a cigarette between his lips, musing on his three great estates and wondering whether it was perhaps unbecoming for him to remember either the name of the man to whom he’d almost become related by marriage or the returned betrothal contract....

  5. Part 2 Mirel
    (pp. 21-143)

    Reb Gedalye Hurvits’s business affairs plunged into ever greater confusion, and an ill-concealed disquiet troubled this preoccupied Torah scholar and his entire aristocratically reserved, well-to-do household.

    With his worldly cousin, who was also his bookkeeper and closest intimate, Reb Gedalye now spent night after night conferring in secret. Both men stayed locked up all night deliberating in private, oblivious to the passing of the third watch,* at length threw back a shutter, opened a window, and noticed:

    The dark beginning of the Elul day† approaching silently and sadly from the northeast corner of the sky, slowly but steadily drawing closer,...

  6. Part 3 The Beginning of the End
    (pp. 144-233)

    —Shmulik, go away!

    Shmulik stood over her with his mouth half-open, chuckling and picking his teeth after his meal. Fully harnessed and waiting for him outside was his own britzka, which would take fully three hours to carry him to his father’s distillery.

    He eventually moved away from the sofa on which Mirel was lying, sucked something from between his teeth, abstractedly spitting the debris from his mouth as he passed through the doorway, and lied to her:

    —Friday, Mirele, Friday.

    On Friday he’d return early from the distillery. He’d be in town and would find out why the big...

  7. Part 4 The End of Everything
    (pp. 234-264)

    These events took place during the icy snowstorms between Christmas and the Gentile New Year.

    His face red with cold, Velvl Burnes stood in his father’s dining room. He’d only just arrived from his farm and was unable to grasp what was going on around him. Looking concerned, almost all the members of the household were clustered around a charity collector, listening to what he had to tell:

    —Reb Gedalye’s end was very near . . . The doctor from the provincial capital had declared that there was nothing more he could do. Reb Gedalye’s sister had already arrived from...

  8. Back Matter
    (pp. 265-265)