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Looking Back

- Abstract

ROBERT KOTLOWITZ’s first novel, Somewhere Else (1972), was justly praised for its unsentimentalized evocation of shtetl life in turn-of-the-century Poland, and for its complex account of the impule to escape from the confines of that life. The book traces the pilgrimage of one Mendel, a prototypical modern Jew, from the backwaters of his native Lomza to the cosmopolitan hub of London around the time of World War I. Mendel is avid for its enlightenment, and in its name he is at first prepared not only to depart from but even to readjust his past-attempting unsuccessfully to hide the fact of his Jewish ancestry from the Gentile temptress, Dorothy Sullivan. Only when Mendel comes to perceive assimilation as an essentially destructive chimera can he accept his past and simultaneously move forward to accept the implications of his rediscovered origins by joining the Jewish Legion to go fight in Palestine.

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