The Last of the Just: An Untimely Novel for our Times

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André Schwarz-Bart's The Last of the Just has been both loved and vilified for its evocation of the timelessness of Jewish suffering. This article argues that what is timeless about The Last of the Just is not just its commitment to the longue durée of unrelieved sorrow, but something more uncomfortable and disturbing. Running alongside the novel's lachrymal mysticism is a very contemporary story about how modern racist violence produces a particular kind of misery, a uniquely oppressive, implacable, psychical and historical suffering that isolates its victims, whether individually or as a group. In Schwarz-Bart's writing, understanding this suffering means recognizing its difficult and complicated universalism.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)26-40
Number of pages15
JournalEuropean Judaism
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2014

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