Commentary Magazine


Article Preview

Three Volumes of Short Stories

- Abstract

These three collections of European short stories are concerned in differing ways with one of the key problems of our time: the need for, and the absence of, genuine community. This is a new theme for fiction. Typically, novels and stories have always dealt with the vicissitudes or development of a hero, the interplay of interest, the relations between men as they take form in love and friendship or their opposites. Yet none of these, not even friendship, is the peculiar thing that community is: for community is friendship with a public content, the sense’ of a vital and necessary relation to others, the sense that one’s happiness and existence depend on others just as theirs depend on oneself. It is precisely this kind of community that totalitarianism destroyed in Europe. The experience of the concentration camps has shown that there is no relation between people so vital and necessary that terror will not break it down, and that it is possible to reduce a man to the point where no one can help him and he can help no one.



About the Author