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The Last Of The Just (Vintage Classics) [Paperback]

Andre Schwarz-Bart
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
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Book Description

4 Jan 2001 Vintage Classics
THE BOOK: In every generation, according to Jewish tradition, thirty-six just men, the Lamed-waf, are born to take the burden of the world's suffering upon themselves. At York in 1185 the just man was Rabbi Yom Tov Levey, whose sacrifice so touched God that he gave his descendants one just man each generation, all the way down to Ernie Levey, the last of the just, killed at Auschwitz in 1943. This, then, is the story of Ernie Levey.


Product details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage Classics; New Ed edition (4 Jan 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099285592
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099285595
  • Product Dimensions: 19.2 x 12.8 x 2.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 248,210 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

"Has the inspiration, the strength and the poetic feeling to make it unique." -- "Sunday Times"

From the Back Cover

In every generation, according to Jewish tradition, thirty-six just men, the Lamed-waf, are born to take the burden of the world's suffering upon themselves. At York in 1185 the just man was Rabbi Yom Tov Levey, whose sacrifice so touched God that he gave his descendants one just man each generation, all the way down to Ernie Levey, the last of the just, killed at Auschwitz in 1943. This, then, is the story of Ernie Levey.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best novel I've ever read 11 April 1997
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
There is a Jewish legend that there is a line of just men. This novel chronicles the tragic demise of the last of those just men (hence the title) at the hands of the Nazis. The story is thick with struggle and triumph, good and evil, joy and misery, but is never maudlin or melodramatic. Schwartz-Bart's words are like brush strokes in a painting, creating a cinematic cast, landscape, and sweeping emotion. In addition to being a gripping intrapsychic read, the book is an excellent individual-level history of the Holocaust--though fiction, it is remarkably true to reality and detail.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Powerful writing and incredibly moving. 18 Oct 2010
Format:Paperback
Powerful and moving. The journey through the generations is exhilirating. The outcome just heartbreaking. A beautiful book you will remember.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Where was God? 9 Dec 2006
By Ralph Blumenau TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
In this classic of 1959 André Schwarz-Bart reworks the Jewish legend of the Lamed Vavs, the handful (36 in most versions of the story) of Just or Righteous Men who live among the Jews in every generation and who provide the merit on which the world depends. The tradition dates back to the 5th century Babylonian Talmud. It was elaborated by kabbalistic Jews in the 16th and 17th century and by hasidic Jews in the 18th century: the Lamed Vavs are humble men and unnoticed as special by their fellow Jews. At times of great peril, so this version has it, "a Lamed Vavnik makes a dramatic appearance, using his hidden powers to defeat the enemies of Israel" (Encyclopedia Judaica).

Schwarz-Bart was born in France and lost most of the members of his family in the Holocaust. His will not have been the first persecuted Jew in history to question whether any Lamed Vav has ever arisen to defeat the enemies of Israel. He retains the idea that he will be humble and unknown, but he totally subverts the idea that he can be a saviour. Instead his role is to offer to God his own martyrdom for his faith and for his people.

Schwarz-Bart imagines the story of the Levys, one family in which the role of the Just Man was hereditary. They have suffered death down the ages, beginning with the massacre of the Jews of York in 1185. In later generations this wandering Jewish family suffers at the hands of the Spanish and Portuguese Inquisitions; they are expelled from one area after another; the Cossacks add their contribution; and when we come to the late 19th century, the family leaves its home in Zemyock in Russian Poland and settles in Germany.
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