With Hope, Farewell was Alexander Baron’s first novel to explore Jewish working class life in fiction, and predated his The Lowlife, being published first in 1952.
Mark Strong endures petty anti-Semitism but achieves his wartime ambition to become a fighter pilot. After the war, blighted by injury and a desolation brought on by conflict, Mark and his wife, Ruth, seek to set up home in Hackney. ‘The bombing of the East End during the war had sent thousands of homeless Jews outwards in wave after wave,’ Baron asserts in this novel. ‘They had penetrated to every corner of Hackney.’ They face organised anti-Semitism, and the climax of the novel comes amid a rally in Dalston by British Nazis, still not cowed by their co-thinkers’ war defeat.
Alexander Baron was born Joseph Alexander Bernstein in 1917 to Jewish parents. His first novel, From the City, From the Plough, a fictionalised account of the D-Day landings, was published in 1948 and sold over a quarter of a million copies. Prior to World War II Baron was politically active on the left. While he continued to write novels he was also a successful screenwriter, writing scripts for Hollywood and for the BBC. Since Baron died in 1999 his novels have been republished several times, testifying to a strong resurgence of interest in his work among the reading public as well as among critics and academics.
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