Item description for The Sorrowful Eyes of Hannah Karajich (Central European Classics Series) by Ivan Olbracht...
The Sorrowful Eyes of Hannah Karajich is a lyrical, deeply moving story of love and the pain of emancipation, set in the now vanished world of rural East European Jewish village life. Hanna is the most beautiful girl in all Polona, an orthodox Jewish village in the remote province of Sub-Carpathian Ruthenia. Involvement in the exciting new movement of Zionism takes her away to a commune in a nearby town but there she meets and falls in love with the strangely named Ivo Karajich: a Jew, yet not a Jew. The agonizing drama that follows, plants into her beautiful almond-shaped eyes the hard grain of sorrow that her children, too, will inherit.
Olbracht's novella is both a great love story and a marvellous portrait of a world that modernity threatened and Hitler destroyed.
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Studio: Central European University Press
Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 8.51" Width: 5.43" Height: 0.78" Weight: 0.68 lbs.
Release Date Oct 1, 1999
Publisher Central European University Press
ISBN 9639116475 ISBN13 9789639116474
Reviews - What do customers think about The Sorrowful Eyes of Hannah Karajich (Central European Classics Series)?
Tensions between social identity and personal self-determination Sep 29, 2005
I greatly enjoyed reading "The Sorrowful Eyes of Hannah Karajich", which is arguably Olbracht's finest work.
Olbracht, perhaps more famous as a political figure that writer in Czechoslovakia, lived in the remote region of Sub-Carpathian Ukraine for a number of years. His writing captures this strange area, which belonged to Czechoslovakia from 1918 to 1938. It is a region of pristine forests, everlasting mountain ranges, and a sense of another primeval world. In his extraordinarily insightful introduction to this edition, Miroslav Holub refers to the Czech experience of Sub-Carpathian Ukraine (or Ruthenia) as a "sixth digit" that was amputated before it became recognized.
Prior to WWII, Ruthenia had a 14% Jewish population living fairly harmoniously with Ruthenia peasantry in distant, desperately poor villages. "The Sorrowful Eyes of Hannah Karajich" takes place in the early 1920s and focuses on the life and choices of the central character, Hannah. Born into an impoverished Orthodox Jewish family, she is beautiful, hard working, and intelligent. In the world around her, the certitudes of Orthodoxy are challenges by deep yearnings for the Messiah (lamed vavniks), for a return to Palestine (Zionists and the Mizrachis), and for personal freedom and self-determination (Free Thinkers). Hannah is caught up in these forces and eventually falls in love with a caring, determined man who presents an impossible paradox for her family and community: a Jew who professes not to be a Jew. In the ensuing dramatic developments, she is inevitably alienated from her uncomprehending family. But in the process she loses part of herself and looks on her newfound modernity with the sad eyes of those for whom heritage has been compromised not replaced.
Olbracht's writing is lucid and strong. He supplies substantial dimensions for reflection on the context of Hannah's world and her dilemma. He provides an important ethnographic record of a time and place that were to be decimated in WWII. He also provides a significant insight into the tensions between traditional belief and modernity, social stability and personal self-determination. This is a haunting and unsettling story. As Hannah and Ivo return to Slovakia in his little yellow car we know that both of them have, and will always have, sorrowful eyes.
A remarkable journey, a remarkable story, and a remarkable writer complimented in this Central European University edition by a wonderful introduction by Miroslav Holub and a sensitive translation by Iris Urwin Lewitova. A very fine read.