Read My Name is Asher Lev by Chaim Potok Free Online
Book Title: My Name is Asher Lev|
The author of the book: Chaim Potok
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 9.99 MB
Edition: Penguin Classics
Date of issue: November 5th 2009
ISBN 13: 9780141190563
Read full description of the books My Name is Asher Lev:Chaim Potok is a brilliant author who refuses to write a page-turning book. I can't tell you how many bad books I have finished hoping for a Potok-esque finish...moving depth that justifies the slow pace of his books.
This was a book I had a hard time finishing. It was too easily put down and, to be truthful, I didn't even like this book until about 3/4 of the way into it. Now, I emphatically say that it is one of the best books I have ever read.
There is so much to say about this book. Throughout my entire reading of it, I kept thinking the book was about "this" or "that", only to be surprised by realizing the subject matter went far deeper. At first I thought it was about an art prodigy; that a difficult path is taken when your child is special or gifted.
It kind of is.
Then I thought it was about the pain and awkwardness of being a religious Jew right after the second world war.
Again, kind of.
Then I thought it was like The Namesake and the struggle between parents and children and different generations.
Ultimately, I think this book is about perception. What is honoring your father and mother and what is following your dream? What is tradition and what is truth? What is the better choice? What is the better life? Whose point of view matters?
I experienced a lot of frustration while reading this. First of all, this book is about so many things that I either know nothing about or that don't interest me. For instance, Asher Lev is a art prodigy. As he is the main character, art - its history and technique - is a frequent subject matter. I know very little about art. It was hard for me to respond to Asher Lev's need to draw and paint. As a person without any particular passion, I had to take his word for it that for him, drawing and painting wasn't a hobby, or something he liked to do, but that it was who he was, an insatiable need that controlled him. That sort of passion would probably cause problems in any family but when you are a Hasidic Jew and the son of an important emissary of the Rebbe whose life work is to create safe places to teach the Torah to religious Jews throughout Europe, that passion tears apart a family.
My second frustration is probably apparent by now. I know very little about Judaism. There is a no apologizes approach to Potok's description of Jewish life. Obviously a Jew himself, he doesn't write for the goyim (are you frustrated? That's the Jewish term for the Gentile. Yeah...I know. I had to learn it all too).
There is a noticeable lack of emotion written about such an emotionally charged situation. Short, perfunctory sentences that made me feel as frustrated with the situation as I felt Asher Lev did with his father who did not get art. By the end of the book, I could appreciate it for the technique that it was. Asher Lev was the narrator and we experienced the story through Asher Lev. That containment of emotion, the abrupt conclusion of dialogue with his parents...that was his existence.
It all builds up to this pinnacle of frustration, this burst of emotion that brings the most hurt to his parents although that is what his art is about...his hurt, his mother's hurt, his father's hurt. I actually cried through this part. I rarely cry. It's that good.
An incredible book. An important book. A book, most definitely, worth reading.
Read information about the authorHerman Harold Potok, or Chaim Tzvi, was born in Buffalo, New York, to Polish immigrants. He received an Orthodox Jewish education. After reading Evelyn Waugh's novel Brideshead Revisited as a teenager, he decided to become a writer. He started writing fiction at the age of 16. At age 17 he made his first submission to the magazine The Atlantic Monthly. Although it wasn't published, he received a note from the editor complimenting his work.
In 1949, at the age of 20, his stories were published in the literary magazine of Yeshiva University, which he also helped edit. In 1950, Potok graduated summa cum laude with a BA in English Literature.
After four years of study at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America he was ordained as a Conservative rabbi. He was appointed director of Leaders Training Fellowship, a youth organization affiliated with Conservative Judaism.
After receiving a master's degree in English literature, Potok enlisted with the U.S. Army as a chaplain. He served in South Korea from 1955 to 1957. He described his time in S. Korea as a transformative experience. Brought up to believe that the Jewish people were central to history and God's plans, he experienced a region where there were almost no Jews and no anti-Semitism, yet whose religious believers prayed with the same fervor that he saw in Orthodox synagogues at home.
Upon his return, he joined the faculty of the University of Judaism in Los Angeles and became the director of a Conservative Jewish summer camp affiliated with the Conservative movement, Camp Ramah. A year later he began his graduate studies at the University of Pennsylvania and was appointed scholar-in-residence at Temple Har Zion in Philadelphia.
In 1963, he spent a year in Israel, where he wrote his doctoral dissertation on Solomon Maimon and began to write a novel.
In 1964 Potok moved to Brooklyn. He became the managing editor of the magazine Conservative Judaism and joined the faculty of the Teachers’ Institute of the Jewish Theological Seminary. The following year, he was appointed editor-in-chief of the Jewish Publication Society in Philadelphia and later, chairman of the publication committee. Potok received a doctorate in philosophy from the University of Pennsylvania.
In 1970, Potok relocated to Jerusalem with his family. He returned to Philadelphia in 1977. After the publication of Old Men at Midnight, he was diagnosed with brain cancer. He died at his home in Merion, Pennsylvania on July 23, 2002, aged 73.
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