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The Chosen (Anglais) Poche – 12 avril 1987

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Extrait

For the first fifteen years of our lives, Danny and I lived within five blocks of each other and neither of us knew of the other’s existence.

Danny’s block was heavily populated by the followers of his father, Russian Hasidic Jews in somber garb, whose habits and frames of reference were born on the soil of the land they had abandoned. They drank tea from samovars, sipping it slowly through cubes of sugar held between their teeth; they ate the foods of their homeland, talked loudly, occasionally in Russian, most often in a Russian Yiddish, and were fierce in their loyalty to Danny’s father.

A block away lived another Hasidic sect, Jews from southern Poland, who walked the Brooklyn streets like specters, with their black hats, long black coats, black beards, and earlocks. These Jews had their own rabbi, their own dynastic ruler, who could trace his family’s position of rabbinic leadership back to the time of the Ba’al Shem Tov, the eighteenth-century founder of Hasidism, whom they all regarded as a God-invested personality.

About three or four such Hasidic sects populated the area in which Danny and I grew up, each with its own rabbi, its own little synagogue, its own customs, it own fierce loyalties. On a Shabbat or festival morning, the members of each sect could be seen walking to their respective synagogues, dressed in their particular garb, eager to pray with their particular rabbi and forget the tumult of the week and the hungry grabbing for money which they needed to feed their large families during the seemingly endless Depression. The sidewalks of Williamsburg were cracked squares of cement, the streets paved with asphalt that softened in the stifling summers and broke apart into potholes in the bitter winters. Many of the houses were brownstones, set tightly together, none taller than three or four stories. In these houses lived Jews, Irish, Germans, and some Spanish Civil War refugee families that had fled the new Franco regime before the onset of the Second World War. Most of the stores were run by gentiles, but some were owned by Orthodox Jews, members of the Hasidic sects in the area. They could be seen behind their counters, wearing black skullcaps, full beards, and long earlocks, eking out their meager livelihoods and dreaming of Shabbat and festivals when they could close their stores and turn their attention to their prayers, their rabbi, their God.

Every Orthodox Jew sent his male children to a yeshiva, a Jewish parochial school, where they studied from eight or nine in the morning to four or five in the evening. On Fridays the students were let out at about one o’clock to prepare for the Shabbat. Jewish education was compulsory for the Orthodox, and because this was America and not Europe, English education was compulsory as well–so each student carried a double burden: Hebrew studies in the mornings and English studies in the afternoons. The test of intellectual excellence, however, had been reduced by tradition and unvoiced unanimity to a single area of study: Talmud. Virtuosity in Talmud was the achievement most sought after by every student of a yeshiva, for it was the automatic guarantee of a reputation for brilliance.

Danny attended the small yeshiva established by his father. Outside of the Williamsburg area, in Crown Heights, I attended the yeshiva in which my father taught. This latter yeshiva was somewhat looked down upon by the students of other Jewish parochial schools of Brooklyn: it offered more English subjects than the required minimum, and it taught its Jewish subjects in Hebrew rather than Yiddish. Most of the students were children of immigrant Jews who preferred to regard themselves as having been emancipated from the fenced-off ghetto mentality typical of the other Jewish parochial schools in Brooklyn.

Danny and I probably would never have met–or we would have met under altogether different circumstances–had it not been for America’s entry into the Second World War and the desire this bred on the part of some English teachers in the Jewish parochial schools to show the gentile world that yeshiva students were as physically fit, despite their long hours of study, as any other American student. They went about proving this by organizing the Jewish parochial schools in and around our area into competitive leagues, and once every two weeks the schools would compete against one another in a variety of sports. I became a member of my school’s varsity softball team.

On a Sunday afternoon in early June, the fifteen members of my team met with our gym instructor in the play yard of our school. It was a warm day, and the sun was bright on the asphalt floor of the yard. The gym instructor was a short, chunky man in his early thirties who taught in the mornings in a nearby public high school and supplemented his income by teaching in our yeshiva during the afternoons. He wore a white polo shirt, white pants, and white sweater, and from the awkward way the little black skullcap sat perched on his round, balding head, it was clearly apparent that he was not accustomed to wearing it with any sort of regularity. When he talked he frequently thumped his right fist into his left palm to emphasize a point. He walked on the balls of his feet, almost in imitation of a boxer’s ring stance, and he was fanatically addicted to professional baseball. He had nursed our softball team along for two years, and by a mixture of patience, luck, shrewd manipulations during some tight ball games, and hard, fist-thumping harangues calculated to shove us into a patriotic awareness of the importance of athletics and physical fitness for the war effort, he was able to mold our original team of fifteen awkward fumblers into the top team of our league. His name was Mr. Galanter, and all of us wondered why he was not off somewhere fighting in the war.

During my two years with the team, I had become quite adept at second base and had also developed a swift underhand pitch that would tempt a batter into a swing but would drop into a curve at the last moment and slide just below the flaying bat for a strike. Mr. Galanter always began a ball game by putting me at second base and would use me as a pitcher only in very tight moments, because, as he put it once, “My baseball philosophy is grounded on the defensive solidarity of the infield.”

That afternoon we were scheduled to play the winning team of another neighborhood league, a team with a reputation for wild, offensive slugging and poor fielding. Mr. Galanter said he was counting upon our infield to act as a solid defensive front. Throughout the warm-up period, with only our team in the yard, he kept thumping his right fist into his left palm and shouting at us to be a solid defensive front.

“No holes,” he shouted from near home plate. “No holes, you hear? Goldberg, what kind of solid defensive front is that? Close in. A battleship could get between you and Malter. That’s it. Schwartz, what are you doing, looking for paratroops? This is a ball game. The enemy’s on the ground. That throw was wide, Goldberg. Throw it like a sharpshooter. Give him the ball again. Throw it. Good. Like a sharpshooter. Very good. Keep the infield solid. No defensive holes in this war.”

We batted and threw the ball around, and it was warm and sunny, and there was the smooth, happy feeling of the summer soon to come, and the tight excitement of the ball game. We wanted very much to win, both for ourselves and, more especially, for Mr. Galanter, for we had all come to like his fist-thumping sincerity. To the rabbis who taught in the Jewish parochial schools, baseball was an evil waste of time, a spawn of the potentially assimilationist English portion of the yeshiva day. But to the students of most of the parochial schools, an inter-league baseball victory had come to take on only a shade less significance than a top grade in Talmud, for it was an unquestioned mark of one’s Americanism, and to be counted a loyal American had become increasingly important to us during these last years of the war.

So Mr. Galanter stood near home plate, shouting instructions and words of encouragement, and we batted and tossed the ball around. I walked off the field for a moment to set up my eyeglasses for the game. I wore shell-rimmed glasses, and before every game I would bend the earpieces in so the glasses would stay tight on my head and not slip down the bridge of my nose when I began to sweat. I always waited until just before a game to bend down the earpieces, because, bent, they would cut into the skin over my ears, and I did not want to feel the pain a moment longer than I had to. The tops of my ears would be sore for days after every game, but better that, I thought, than the need to keep pushing my glasses up the bridge of my nose or the possibility of having them fall off suddenly during an important play.

Davey Cantor, one of the boys who acted as a replacement if a first-stringer had to leave the game, was standing near the wire screen behind home plate. He was a short boy, with a round face, dark hair, owlish glasses, and a very Semitic nose. He watched me fix my glasses.

“You’re looking good out there, Reuven,” he told me.

“Thanks,” I said.

“Everyone is looking real good.”

“It’ll be a good game.”

He stared at me through his glasses. “You think so?” he asked.

“Sure, why not?”

“You ever see them play, Reuven?”

“No.”

“They’re murderers.”

“Sure,” I said.

“No, really. They’re wild.”

“You saw them play?”

“Twice. They’re murderers.”

“Everyone plays to win, Davey.”

“They don’t only play to win. They play like it’s the first of the Ten Commandments.”

I laughed. “That yeshiva?” I said. “Oh, come on, Davey.”

Revue de presse

“Anyone who finds The Chosen is finding a jewel. Its themes are profound and universal.... It will stay on our bookshelves and be read again.” (The Wall Street Journal)

The Chosen is one of the best novels I have read in the last decade. The author asks and provides unique and original answers to the nature of parental love, infuses his novel with a quiet and compelling wisdom, and brings alive a period and neighborhood with rare style.” (Los Angeles Times)

“Perceptive, touching, exquisite, and unusual.... This is a most profound novel: Chaim Potok is a gifted writer.” (The Boston Sunday Herald)

“It makes you want to buttonhole strangers in the street to be sure they know it’s around.... It revives my sometimes fading belief in humanity. Works of this caliber should be occasion for singing in the streets and shouting from the rooftops.” (Chicago Tribune)

“So entertaining, so full of love and compassion that readers of all persuasions will take it to their hearts. Mr. Potok is writing about two fathers and their sons... in a way that will ring just as true at Iowa as in Brooklyn.” (Publishers Weekly)

The Chosen is a compelling, absorbing book. It offers deep, sympathetic insight into the variety and profundity of Jewish tradition and heritage. It’s interesting as social commentary and as, simply, story. It’s a joy to read for its splendid, singing prose style as much as for its message.” (Minneapolis Star Tribune)

“We rejoice, and even weep a little.... Long afterward it remains in the mind and delights.” (The New York Times Book Review)

“It is a simple, almost meager story... yet the warmth and pathos of the dealings between fathers and sons and the understated odyssey from boyhood to manhood give the book a range that makes it worth anybody’s reading.” (The Christian Science Monitor)

“A fine, moving, gratifying book.” (Saturday Review)

“Sensitively written and heartwarming.” (Library Journal)

“A coming of age classic.” (The Boston Globe) --Ce texte fait référence à l'édition Relié .

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Je recommande ce roman de Chaim Potok. Il est écrit de manière juste, et réussit à nous transporter dans un univers très particulier où la communication est essentielle, et où les relations humaines sont au centre de l'épanouissement personnel.
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I thought that i read it a long time ago and i didn't remember it.
After spending years in Brooklyn and knowing the Hasidic community, i was delighted to read that nothing has changed in their way of life.
Anyway, that's a beautiful book about friendship and intelligence.
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Most of the book I thought that one side was right/better and the other wrong/worse. Towards the very end I discovered that the 2nd side has a point, its approach and contribution has a value. Great book.
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le livre que j'ai reçu parait neuf.il n'ya pas de prolème.la seule chose c'est que les pages sont assez dures mais on s'y fait.On est là pour lire l'histoire non?!
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Commentaires client les plus utiles sur Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0x99863fe4) étoiles sur 5 482 commentaires
142 internautes sur 147 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
HASH(0x999b9b7c) étoiles sur 5 A Classic In Every Sense 26 mai 2001
Par G. J Wiener - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Poche
This novel is suited for just about anybody regardless of religion or race. Those who are Jewish will relate a little easier but those of other faiths can apply the various relationships that occur in this book to their own lives.
The story is primarilly about two boys, Reuven and Danny who meet one day in a softball game. Danny is a Hassidic Jew and Reuven is merely Orthodox. Danny's initial impression is one of disdain towards Reuven as he is unable to relate to people who are not on his religious level at first impression. An accident on the ball field brings them together and eventually they begin a friendship. It grows deeper when both their fathers are drawn into each others worlds. It is indeed very interesting how each father raises his son so diffrently.
The backdrops of the hospital, World War II, the surrender of the Nazis, The Zionist Movement, and the eventual statehood of Israel effect the two worlds of Danny and Reuven. There is a period of time when the Zionist movement causes Danny and Reuven to put their friendship on hold. However, in time they return to nurture each other.
This is not a quick read by any means as anyone with a soul with be enamored by the details of this fine novel. Practically each page offers descriptive information about critical steps that Danny and Reuven take in their critical years to discovering themselves. Even both fathers learn something in the end. This is a story which will have you thinking and analyzing many many aspects of the lives of Danny and Reuven and I sincerely hope more teenagers and college students read this book and develop a greater acceptance for peers who may be a little different from themselves.
78 internautes sur 82 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
HASH(0x999b9bd0) étoiles sur 5 "The Chosen" Is A Miracle For All 9 juillet 2000
Par Dan Eaton - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Poche
I am an African American attorney who read this book as part of collecting readings for a summer trip with Operation Understanding to share with Black and Jewish high school students. Operation Understanding takes 8 Black and 8 Jewish students between their Junior and Senior years of high school on a trip across the South and Northeast, stopping at places of significance to both, in an effort to restore the alliance that existed between the groups especially during the Civil Rights Movement. This was the perfect book to gain a deeper understanding of American Jewry for the trip.
The book explores the relationship between two deeply religious boys from profoundly different traditions within that religion who are accidentally -- divinely, really -- brought together. The development of both boys' spirituality starts with lessons from their fathers and deepens with lessons from each other.
The Chosen takes place in World War II America. I was already familiar with many of the classic accounts of Holocaust survivors (Anne Frank, Elie Wiesel, and others.) This book richly filled a gap in that understanding by presenting a fully formed first person account, though ficitious, of the wrenching experience of American Jews who helplessly learned of the horror from here.
The book also offers thorough background information (which will have to be supplemented by further reading) about Jewish history, both cultural and religious. The author patiently explains terms presumably unfamiliar to the general reader and then trusts the reader to turn back if, during the course of reading the novel, the terms are momentarily forgotten. Those reviewers who said that Potok left the reader unaided were simply not paying close attention.
Beyond its fascinating historical and religious perspectives, this book's elegant craftsmanship and universal themes will move anyone, regardless of background. Potok's gift for writing regional American dialogue is similar to that of Twain and Steinbeck. Thematically, especially moving to me was the way in which the fathers' mostly wordless love and support for their sons manifested itself in the friends' often wordless love and support for each other. It is significant in this regard that the fathers never meet in the novel, even as they separately express a conflicted admiration for each other when each speaks to one or both boys. When both boys choose career paths their fathers had not expected, Potok allows the reader to share all four characters' realization that it is fulfilling the expectations of God, the Father that ultimately matters most.
I will share an excerpt of this extraordinary book with the young people on our trip. And when we reach New York, my hometown, I'm giving my copy to my Dad.
83 internautes sur 88 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
HASH(0x997b2024) étoiles sur 5 Friendship that transcends all differences 18 mars 2001
Par Tom Hinkle - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Broché
This is a story of friendship, a friendship that is formed between two Jewish boys (of differenct sects) under the most unusual circumstances. One boy, Danny, destined to be a tzaddik, a rabbi to the Hasidic community, is raised by his rabbi father who communicates to Danny only during study of the Torah. The other boy, Reuven, from a less strict Jewish sect, becomes more than a friend, actually more like a buffer or a liason between Danny and his father. Their friendship grows, is torn apart and then mended, leading to the emotional final chapter, as their true destinies begin to take shape.
Chaim Potok has become one of my favorite authors. This is the third book of his that I have read this year, and, as a Christian, his novels give me great insight into modern day Judaism. His books are not only informative, but brilliant, heartbreaking, and compassionate. Everyone with any kind of religious bent at all, or even the non-religious, should read his work. I'll guarantee that you will be moved.
64 internautes sur 73 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
HASH(0x997b23f0) étoiles sur 5 One of the best books I've ever read 7 février 2000
Par Emily Scott - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Poche
This book explores the friendship that develops between two Jewish boys in New York City during the Second World War. I loved it for it's beautiful story and how it weaves together the very different lives of the boys, their relationships with their fathers, and the eventual interactions of all four of the characters. Potok includes numerous desriptions of Jewish tradition and customs, which is vital to the story as well as fascinating information. I found myself seeking to learn more about the Jewish faith when I finished this book. The plot is complex in how it balances the characters and their lives, all while teaching the reader about the various sects of Judaism. At the same time, it is told in beautiful language that is very easy to understand and appreciate. The entire book is muted and wonderfully understated, and it feels like you are listening to an old man recount his youth in a soft yet spirited voice. Potok's book "The Promise" follows up the story of "The Chosen" nicely, but the first book in the sequence is by far the best. At times tragic, jubilant, and thoughtful, this is by far one of the best books I have ever read, if not THE best. I feel like I'm a better person for it. Everyone should have a chance to read this book.
33 internautes sur 37 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
HASH(0x997b24d4) étoiles sur 5 Fathers and Sons----the kosher version 18 novembre 2003
Par Bob Newman - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Poche
When I started reading THE CHOSEN, I was rather disappointed. It read like a run-of-the-mill pop fiction work for at least 90 pages. Reuven Malter, 15, plays baseball for his yeshiva team in Brooklyn; their opponents are a Hasidic team whose star is Danny Saunders, the 15 year old son of the religious guru or the tzaddik of a Hasidic community. The teams clash, Reuven winds up in the hospital thanks to stopping a vicious line drive with his glasses. Danny, the hitter, comes to visit him and apologizes. They become friends. The year is 1944---D-Day and the war hover in the background. There are a couple other stock characters. At that point, the tenor of the novel changes to a schematic balancing of the two sets of fathers and sons. Reuven's father teaches in the yeshiva where his son studies, but he is more open to the outside world. Danny's father is a patriarch steeped in tradition, bearing the cares of all his people on his shoulders, revered by them to extremes. Danny, with a photographic memory and keen mind, has long been tipped to succeed his father, hence he is "the chosen" one. Reuven, the less religious of the two, decides to become a rabbi. Danny wants to go into psychology, but will his father permit it ? Can their friendship hold out before the narrow, strict vision of life of Danny's father ? Will Danny's fate be decided for him or will the American ideal of individual choice prevail ?
THE CHOSEN is a coming of age novel with a difference, it traces the onset of maturity, the making of life choices in an environment unfamiliar to most people in the world. Mainly, though, the novel compares and contrasts differing ideas on Jewish life and the creation of Israel. There are also earnest discourses on psychology and Freud, the Talmud and logic. Readers can learn a lot about Jewish tradition and customs, including, by induction, the importance of women in Orthodox Jewish life (there are perhaps ten lines about women in the whole book, showing how they take care of men). Though I did learn a lot about Hasidic thought and practice, I did not admire this novel in terms of literary power. Both Bernard Malamud and Isaac Bashevis Singer wrote to a much higher standard on similar topics. I felt continually as though Potok was using the text to educate me. I don't object to such sincere and gentle lecturing, but it seldom produces great literature. I think that your take on this novel will depend on your age. The younger you are, the fresher it will appear.
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