Reading A.M. Klein

In my latest column for the Jerusalem Post, I examine the work of a wonderful, though virtually forgotten, North American Jewish writer/poet: A.M. Klein.

A.M. Klein died in 1972 at 63. After suffering some sort of mental breakdown, he didn’t publish a word for the last 17 years of his life. But the works he did write are some of the great lost treasures of 20th-century Jewish literature.

Klein was born in Ukraine, but his family moved to Montreal when he was a baby. His upbringing was rooted in traditional Jewish ritual and learning. Eventually, Klein became active in Jewish communal life in Montreal and was an ardent Zionist. But above all, he was a poet and one of Canada’s leading modernists. All of these identities are on display in Klein’s last book, The Second Scroll, a profound – if dense – novella that was published in 1951.

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