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The Wandering Jew

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According to the myth of the Wandering Jew, Ahasverus denied Christ a resting place while Christ was traveling to Golgotha. In turn, Ahasverus was cursed to roam the earth until the Second Coming. Stefan Heym's novel re-creates and expands this myth to propose that the right synthesis of love and rebellion can bring humankind to the Kingdom of Heaven. Heym introduces both A According to the myth of the Wandering Jew, Ahasverus denied Christ a resting place while Christ was traveling to Golgotha. In turn, Ahasverus was cursed to roam the earth until the Second Coming. Stefan Heym's novel re-creates and expands this myth to propose that the right synthesis of love and rebellion can bring humankind to the Kingdom of Heaven. Heym introduces both Ahasverus and Lucifer as angels cast out of heaven for their opinions on God's order. Their respective oppositions continue throughout the rest of time: Ahasverus remains defiant through protest rooted in love and a faith in progress, while Lucifer is rebellious by means of his old, familiar methods. In a funny eternity of run-ins, debates, and meddling with characters such as Christ, a disciple of Luther, and a Marxist professor in East Germany, Ahasverus and Lucifer struggle on, awaiting the Second Coming.


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According to the myth of the Wandering Jew, Ahasverus denied Christ a resting place while Christ was traveling to Golgotha. In turn, Ahasverus was cursed to roam the earth until the Second Coming. Stefan Heym's novel re-creates and expands this myth to propose that the right synthesis of love and rebellion can bring humankind to the Kingdom of Heaven. Heym introduces both A According to the myth of the Wandering Jew, Ahasverus denied Christ a resting place while Christ was traveling to Golgotha. In turn, Ahasverus was cursed to roam the earth until the Second Coming. Stefan Heym's novel re-creates and expands this myth to propose that the right synthesis of love and rebellion can bring humankind to the Kingdom of Heaven. Heym introduces both Ahasverus and Lucifer as angels cast out of heaven for their opinions on God's order. Their respective oppositions continue throughout the rest of time: Ahasverus remains defiant through protest rooted in love and a faith in progress, while Lucifer is rebellious by means of his old, familiar methods. In a funny eternity of run-ins, debates, and meddling with characters such as Christ, a disciple of Luther, and a Marxist professor in East Germany, Ahasverus and Lucifer struggle on, awaiting the Second Coming.

30 review for The Wandering Jew

  1. 5 out of 5

    Manybooks

    When I read Stefan Heym's 1981 novel Ahasver in 1989 (for an undergraduate university course on 20th century German literature), I approached the novel with more than a bit of personal trepidation, for I was indeed rather worried that Ahasver, even though Stefan Heym was of Jewish (albeit also of secular) background, would be first and foremost a simple reimagining of the Biblical myth and concept of the Wandering Jew, and would therefore basically be portraying the title characters of Ahasver a When I read Stefan Heym's 1981 novel Ahasver in 1989 (for an undergraduate university course on 20th century German literature), I approached the novel with more than a bit of personal trepidation, for I was indeed rather worried that Ahasver, even though Stefan Heym was of Jewish (albeit also of secular) background, would be first and foremost a simple reimagining of the Biblical myth and concept of the Wandering Jew, and would therefore basically be portraying the title characters of Ahasver as mainly a bigoted individual who had nastily refused to help and give a bit of shelter to Jesus Christ on his way to the cruxifixction and was therefore cursed by both him and God to wander aimlessly and without rest (and just like Ahasver had refused Jesus) until the end of times, until the so-called Second Coming. However and yes indeed thankfully, in Ahasver, Ahasver is NOT simply the Wandering Jew of Biblical myth, but is actually portrayed by Stefan Heym as one of the fallen angels (and unlike his compatriot Lucifer, who also appears Ahasver and is in many ways the absolute negative counterpart to the main character, to Ahasver, the latter, Ahasver, he appears as a generally positive individual who does not in any way despise humanity but simply wants humanity to emancipate itself from God and from religious, cultural and political slavery). And indeed, when Ahasver reacts negatively towards Jesus on his way to Golgotha, it is simply a momentary frustration and not in any manner maliciousness, as Ahasver actually loves and cherishes Jesus Christ and as a revolutionary fallen angel sees in Jesus a tool for humanity to become emancipated from God (and yes, at least to and for me, I totally do understand Ahasver's anger toeards Jesus Christ and that instead of revolting against his fate, Jesus just like an animal being lead to slaughter accepts his fate and that God supposedly demands his death and that this "sacrifice" is even necessary). Furthermore and ironically speaking, the curse that Jesus Christ then casts at and on the main character is actually shown in Ahasver and by author Stefan Heym to really and truly be very much a blessing in disguise. For it permits and allows Ahasver the opportunity to attempt to help humanity, to try to install necessary and required revolutionary ideals, to strive to make us humans think for ourselves and critically and yes to perhaps even attempt to mitigate some of the damage done and caused by fellow fallen angel Lucifer, who is not only seen and portrayed as the reactionary and negative counterpart to positive revolutionary Ahasver but is depicted in Ahasver as also and equally having been one of the main movers and shakers in both historic and contemporary life and culture, such as for example in Lutheranism, in the Protestant Reformation and in the politics of (the now former) East Germany (where it is very clearly demonstrated by Stefan Hem that the erstwhile ideals of social justice and human rights have been bastardised by none other than Lucifer himself into some kind of populist horror, and yes, in my opinion very much similar to what is at present happening in the United States under Donald Trump or in the Canadian province of Ontario under Doug Ford, with Stefan Heym and his Ahasver clearly showing that ALL forms of both left and right wing reactionism are the work of Lucifer, and conversely that Ahasver's own and thoughtful revolutionism is to be seen as positive and to be imitated but that sadly and frustratingly, Ahasver and his ideals more often than not are doomed to failure, since the reactionism promoted by Lucifer and perhaps even to an extent by God with his aloof carelessness and hands-off approach often seem to win and succeed). Now with regard to the English language translation of Ahasver, and considering that The Wandering Jew has actually been rendered from German into English by the author, by Stefan Heym himself, I have indeed and definitely both totally enjoyed and appreciated the end result. For Stefan Heym manages to (and of course) capture equally the style and narrative flow of his German original, of his Ahasver in his The Wandering Jew (as well as bien sûr the themes and concepts presented and depicted). And although I still have to admit that I have found the German original slightly more pleasurable to read, I can and will certainly very highly recommend The Wandering Jew and claim that I have seldom read a more authentic sounding and feeling translation (which I guess does make sense since Stefan Heym has penned both versions himself). And yes, the only very mild criticism I do have for The Wandering Jew is that I would have preferred that Stefan Heym had also titled the English translation with the personal name of Ahasverus (or something similar) instead of The Wandering Jew (as to and for me, that title seems to too strongly and overtly indicate and suggest the Wandering Jew myth of the Bible and the Middle Ages, which in my opinion, Stefan Heym's novel does not really ever in any way truly represent).

  2. 4 out of 5

    Manybooks

    When I read Stefan Heym's 1981 novel Ahasver (which is titled The Wandering Jew in its English translations and has interestingly enough been translated by the author, by Stefan Heym himself) in 1989 (for an undergraduate university course on 20th century German literature, with Ahasver being the at that time most current book on our reading list), I approached the novel with more than a bit of personal trepidation, for I was indeed rather worried that Ahasver, even though Stefan Heym was of Jew When I read Stefan Heym's 1981 novel Ahasver (which is titled The Wandering Jew in its English translations and has interestingly enough been translated by the author, by Stefan Heym himself) in 1989 (for an undergraduate university course on 20th century German literature, with Ahasver being the at that time most current book on our reading list), I approached the novel with more than a bit of personal trepidation, for I was indeed rather worried that Ahasver, even though Stefan Heym was of Jewish (albeit also of secular) background, would be first and foremost a simple reimagining of the Biblical myth and concept of the Wandering Jew, and would therefore basically be portraying the title characters of Ahasver as mainly a bigoted individual who had nastily refused to help and give a bit of shelter to Jesus Christ on his way to the cruxifixction and was therefore cursed by both him and God to wander aimlessly and without rest (and just like Ahasver had refused Jesus) until the end of times, until the so-called Second Coming. However and yes indeed thankfully, in Ahasver, Ahasver is NOT simply the Wandering Jew of Biblical myth, but is actually portrayed by Stefan Heym as one of the fallen angels (and unlike his compatriot Lucifer, who also appears Ahasver and is in many ways the absolute negative counterpart to the main character, to Ahasver, the latter, Anasver, he appears as a generally positive individual who does not in any way despise humanity but simply wants humanity to emancipate itself from God and from religious, cultural and political slavery). And indeed, when Ahasver reacts negatively towards Jesus on his way to Golgotha, it is simply a momentary frustration and not in any manner maliciousness, as Ahasver actually loves and cherishes Jesus Christ and as a revolutionary fallen angel sees in Jesus a tool for humanity to become emancipated from God (and yes, at least to and for me, I totally understand Ahasver's anger towards Jesus Christ and that instead of revolting against his fate, Jesus just like an animal being lead to slaughter accepts his fate and that God supposedly demands his death and that this "sacrifice" is even necessary). Furthermore and ironically speaking, the curse that Jesus Christ then casts at and on the main character is actually shown in Ahasver and by author Stefan Heym to really and truly be very much a blessing in disguise. For it permits and allows Ahasver the opportunity to attempt to help humanity, to try to install necessary and required revolutionary ideals, to strive to make us humans think for ourselves and critically and yes to perhaps even attempt to mitigate some of the damage done and caused by fellow fallen angel Lucifer, who is not only seen and portrayed as the reactionary and negative counterpart to positive revolutionary Ahasver but is depicted in Ahasver to also and equally have been one of the main movers and shakers in both historic and contemporary life and culture, such as for example in Lutheranism, in the Protestant Reformation and in the politics of (the now former) East Germany (where it is very clearly demonstrated by Stefan Heym that the erstwhile ideals of social justice and human rights have been bastardised by none other than Lucifer himself into some kind of populist horror, and yes, in my opinion very similar to what is at present happening in the United States under Donald Trump or in the Canadian province of Ontario under Doug Ford, with Stefan Heym and his Ahasver clearly showing that ALL forms of both left and right wing reactionism are the work of Lucifer, and conversely that Ahasver's own and thoughtful revolutionism is to be seen as positive and to be imitated but that sadly and frustratingly, Ahasver and his ideals more often than not are doomed to failure, since the reactionism promoted by Lucifer and perhaps even to an extent by God with his aloof carelessness and hands-off approach often seem to win and succeed). Highly recommended, but with the caveat that in my opinion Ahasver would likely not be a good fit for Biblical literalists or for individuals who cannot handle religious criticisms.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Roy Berkowitz

    Brilliant retelling of the Christ story. Similar to the Master and Margarita, the Devil travels through Germany and the lowlands.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Mark

    I found this novel entertaining and amusing. It's the story of the adventures of Asahverus the Wandering or Everlasting Jew and Lucifer on Earth after they have been cast down from heaven by God after refusing to worship Adam. The novel follows Asahverus' adventures from the time of Christ, through the time of Martin Luther (and shortly thereafter) in 16th Century Germany, to Socialist East Germany in 1980, and, ultimately, the second coming and Armageddon. Lucifer also plays a prominent role in I found this novel entertaining and amusing. It's the story of the adventures of Asahverus the Wandering or Everlasting Jew and Lucifer on Earth after they have been cast down from heaven by God after refusing to worship Adam. The novel follows Asahverus' adventures from the time of Christ, through the time of Martin Luther (and shortly thereafter) in 16th Century Germany, to Socialist East Germany in 1980, and, ultimately, the second coming and Armageddon. Lucifer also plays a prominent role in the novel. Not being a religious person, I learned a few new things about the Bible, Jesus Christ, and Christianity (along with all of the ensuing problems, contradictions, paradoxes, etc.). The legend of the Wandering or Everlasting Jew seems to be rooted in the bible, old testament (?), and some old Judeo-Christian stories, myths, and superstitions.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Iris AE

    Erstaunlich lustig und doch verschroben, seltsam und im alten Stil gehalten. Irgendwie nicht ganz einfach weil so oft in der Zeit gesprungen wird. Was nicht ganz klar wird ist: was will Ahasver? Der Leuchtentrager ist eine koestliche Erfindung, nur zu welchem Zweck?

  6. 5 out of 5

    Cecilie Jøhnk

    One of my favourite books. Reread several times.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Connie Looson

    I read this many yeas ago, and now that I've re-discovered it can't wait to do it all again. I adored this book. I read this many yeas ago, and now that I've re-discovered it can't wait to do it all again. I adored this book.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Toyvo

    Нарочито.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Cathy

    One of our book club gals picked this and I just didn't get it, apparently. I was excited for the possibilities, and they weren't what I was hoping. One of our book club gals picked this and I just didn't get it, apparently. I was excited for the possibilities, and they weren't what I was hoping.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Lauren

  11. 4 out of 5

    Scoutaccount

  12. 4 out of 5

    Harry Blacher

  13. 4 out of 5

    Margaret

  14. 5 out of 5

    Amelie Bir

  15. 5 out of 5

    Doug

  16. 4 out of 5

    Magarethe

  17. 5 out of 5

    Steven Stechschulte

  18. 4 out of 5

    Caspar De Boor

  19. 5 out of 5

    Myrto Amorgianou

  20. 4 out of 5

    Adi Gonen

  21. 5 out of 5

    Dr Jordan Giddings

  22. 5 out of 5

    Andrew Pritchard

  23. 5 out of 5

    Kiyumars

  24. 4 out of 5

    Wylie

  25. 4 out of 5

    Mikhail Zaitsev

  26. 5 out of 5

    Tobias

  27. 5 out of 5

    Lasse Jürgensen

  28. 5 out of 5

    Kristian

  29. 5 out of 5

    Ed

  30. 5 out of 5

    Tam Tam

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