January 25, 1998 |
When Mordecai Richler burst on the literary scene in 1960 with his novel "The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz," there were cheers and hosannas from critics who had "discovered" him. No less a figure than Alfred Kazin pronounced: "It comes off brilliantly." Actually "Duddy Kravitz" was Richler's fourth novel, but the unknown Jewish writer from Montreal was still under 30.
April 19, 1990 |
Leaning on a cane, Canadian firebrand Mordecai Richler hobbled into the lobby of Montreal's posh Ritz-Carlton Hotel. The 59-year-old writer had taken a spill on the ice outside of his country home on Lac Memphremagog, a resort lake straddling the U.S. border in Quebec's Eastern Townships.
April 21, 1992 |
In ordinary times, novelist Mordecai Richler delights his fellow Canadians--to say nothing of many other literate North Americans--with his deft coming-of-age tales set in the Jewish Montreal of his youth. But these aren't ordinary times in Canada. Quebec's Francophone nationalists have pressed their provincial government to hold a referendum on sovereignty this fall.
June 21, 1992 |
There are more French Canadians alive now than ever before, and they possess more wealth and power than at any point in the past; yet their politics is based on the profoundly held belief that they are in danger of disappearing into the fog of history like some preliterate tribe of the Amazon. They see themselves, all 6.2 million of them, succumbing to the demographic pressure of North America and slowly assimilating into the English-speaking majority.
January 22, 1995 |
Just 100 years ago, in late 1894, a French army officer of Jewish extraction was arrested, tried and falsely convicted of treason. The trial of Captain Alfred Dreyfus, and his formal degradation on a barracks square in front of a mob that shouted "Death to the Jews!" was witnessed by the Paris correspondent of a Vienna newspaper. Months later, Theodor Herzl wrote "The Jewish State," his clarion call for resolving the apparently irresolvable "Jewish problem": the misery of the poor Jews living in eastern Europe under the Tsar, but also the false and humiliating--and, as the Dreyfus Affair suggested, precarious--position of supposedly emancipated Jews in the West.
May 10, 1992
Your Feb. 16 article ("Showtime Is About to Hit Streets of Montreal"), about Montreal's 350th birthday, prompts this urgent suggestion: Anyone preparing for a trip to the province of Quebec must read "Oh Canada! Oh Quebec," by Mordecai Richler. Failing that, dig up the Sept. 23, 1991, issue of The New Yorker on which it was based. MERRILL SARTY Los Angeles