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23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderfully evocative of the inter-war East End
This is a re-issue, as a Penguin Modern Classic, of a book first published in 1972. In twelve short chapters Litvinoff wonderfully evokes his childhood and adolescence in the crowded inter-war Jewish East End. While bringing out the poverty, squalor and stench in which the immigrants from Eastern Europe lived, there is a rich and vibrant community life, and his...
Published on 24 Sep 2008 by Ralph Blumenau

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2.0 out of 5 stars Journey Through a Small Planet
Book was in very bad condition.i threw it sway.
Published 2 months ago by Francine Weistrop


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23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderfully evocative of the inter-war East End, 24 Sep 2008
By 
Ralph Blumenau (London United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This is a re-issue, as a Penguin Modern Classic, of a book first published in 1972. In twelve short chapters Litvinoff wonderfully evokes his childhood and adolescence in the crowded inter-war Jewish East End. While bringing out the poverty, squalor and stench in which the immigrants from Eastern Europe lived, there is a rich and vibrant community life, and his observations of characters and situations are mostly humorous - though the chapter on his experience of coarse antisemitism from staff and fellow-pupils at a trade school for shoe-makers is too grim for humour. He did not seem to show much promise as a youngster and had a series of dreary and humdrum jobs. At the very end of this memoir, when he was 19, a poem suddenly came to him, and "things would never be the same again."

He would of course not be the only upwardly mobile Jew coming from that unpromising setting, but, as in all these cases, each such ascent seems like a small miracle.

There follows an appendix of two essays and two poems. The first essay, here published for the first time, was originally written just after the War. It is a powerful, slightly over-written story about a solar eclipse; but it shows the progress he had made as a writer in the dozen years since that first literary effort. The memoir itself, written a quarter of a century later still, is not over-written at all: by that time his style had become worthy of being a classic.

The second essay, originally published in 1967, sets out his views of what it has meant to him to be `A Jew in England'. That theme is further elaborated by the 35 page introduction to the book. Written by Patrick Wright, it sets Litvinoff's memoir into the context of his whole remarkable life, and is a small masterpiece in itself. Litvinoff's reflections on his experiences as a Jew have varied over a long life-time: how he relates and has related to his background, to his Englishness, to Communism, to the Soviet Union, to Zionism and to Israel.

His last book was published a quarter of a century ago, and none of his novels are currently in print. See my Amazon reviews of The Faces of Terror; Blood on the Snow; The Face of Terror; The Man Next Door). He is now 92; and it must be gratifying for him that this memoir at least has been re-issued, and as a classic at that.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Poetic account of life in the old London shtetl, 14 April 2013
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Litvinoff was recommended to me by a friend, and I am forever indebted to them for having helped me discover this erudite, lyrical chronicler of Jewish life in Whitechapel. These are short stories, or perhaps more accurately vignettes, but teeming with detail and raw emotion. What a brilliant writer. If I'd known about him when he was alive I would have written him fan-mail!
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A very good book, 30 Oct 2011
Interesting.an almost unusual book.
I would recommend it as an insight into inter war
Britain and london in particular.
The authors comments on the severe social
costs of ww2 are a rarity.
communities were destroyed and forgotten about except by those
Whose lives were destroyed by the disruption.
Worthy of five stars.best book I've read in a long
time.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Nostalgia without sentimentality, 20 Sep 2013
By 
Ruth M. Delvin (Reykjavik) - See all my reviews
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This is an autobiography written with simplicity and warmth, of interest to anyone attached to London's East End and the social history of its pre-war migrant population. Many older citizens will remember of have been told about the features of every day life Emmanuel Litvinoff describes and will enjoy the directness and humour of his writing as much as I did. If you have parents or grandparents with East End roots, your present problem is solved.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Lyrical evocation of a dismal world, 10 Sep 2013
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This review is from: Journey Through a Small Planet (Paperback)
This is a good, enjoyable, well-written collection of vignettes - they're not quite stories, but little portraits of times and incidents. Litvinoff has a wonderful eye for telling detail (especially textures and smells) and writes beautiful about a world that is anything but beautiful. Those who view the past through rose-coloured spectacles will find little to please them here, but for everyone else it's a treasure.

In passing I can't help noting the overlaps between the situations he describes and the history of my own family, including the father (in my case my mother's grandfather) deported to Russia to fight in its army in WW1, the poverty, the overcrowding, the low-waged low-skilled sweated casual work...
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5.0 out of 5 stars Really good book, 1 Mar 2013
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This review is from: Journey Through a Small Planet (Paperback)
I am a bit of a Jack the Ripper "investigator" so I was looking for books that described the East End of London first hand. This book did that, and much more. Litvinoff describes his life there in a very readable and truthful way, so that you feel you are "walking the streets" with him. It's down to earth and very interesting, funny at times and definitely worth a read
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5.0 out of 5 stars Litvinoff's Journey, 8 Dec 2012
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A lovely book – funny, sad, and full of colourful detail on living in Bethnal Green early in the last century.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Journey Through a Small Planet, 10 Oct 2014
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Francine Weistrop (New England) - See all my reviews
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Book was in very bad condition.i threw it sway.
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Journey Through a Small Planet
Journey Through a Small Planet by Emanuel Litvinoff (Paperback - 1 April 1993)
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