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Transgression and Self-Punishment in Isaac Bashevis Singer's Searches

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Frances Vargas Gibbons

This study breaks new ground in its juxtaposition of five of Singer's major novels with five of his children stories to piece together Singer's personal struggle for individuality and artistic excellence. It shows, through detailed examination of the fiction, that Singer was forced to pursue these objectives surreptitiously since such non-traditional goals were prohibited in his Hasidic home. He developed an adversarial relationship with God, and created male characters who sought a suprasocial, nonreproductive relationship with women. He punished his characters for these transgressions but, in the end, he also punished some of the fiction.