The King of Schnorrers


Read by Adrian Praetzellis

(4.6 stars; 50 reviews)

Manasseh da Costa, protagonist of this hilarious novel, is a schnorrer (beggar) who lives on the charitable contributions of the Jews of late 18th-century London. Manasseh is far from being a humble panhandler for, as every schnorrer knows, supporting the poor is a commandment from God (a mitzvah) not just a favour. And as the descendant of Portuguese Jews who had lived in England for many generations, Manasseh is the social superior of those newly arrived from Eastern Europe (Tedesco)—even his wealthy ‘patron’ Joseph Grobstock. The book concludes as the ever-audacious Manasseh strikes a blow for tolerance and understanding—while helping himself along the way. (Summary by Adrian Praetzellis)
Alt-BC: Lucy Burgoyne (4 hr 24 min)

Chapters

Showing how the wicked philanthropist was turned into a fish-porter 40:00 Read by Adrian Praetzellis
Showing how the king reigned 38:46 Read by Adrian Praetzellis
Showing how his majesty went to the theatre and was wooed 47:07 Read by Adrian Praetzellis
Showing how the royal wedding was arranged 46:13 Read by Adrian Praetzellis
Showing how the king dissolved the Mahamad 43:47 Read by Adrian Praetzellis
Showing how the king enriched the synagogue 49:03 Read by Adrian Praetzellis

Reviews

I absolutely LOVE this story!


(5 stars)

Zangwill and Praetzellis belong together. Israel Zangwill tells the story of Jewish life in London with humor and compassion that must have been unique for his time. I laughed out loud over and over at the accuracy of the characters and Adrian Praetzellis spoke with the accents I remember from spending many years in a neighborhood populated by similarly witty and astute people. This has been a great pleasure and I've listened to this recording several times. 6/23/17 Additional note: Yes, this story is filled with stereotypes which, in a non-humorous story would be deeply offensive. I would argue that Manassa is not one of these. He's an intelligent human being who uses his wits to demonstrate his logic to the community and this works to his benefit. He's not what is objectionably called "a clever Jew." When he outsmarts another character it's because the person is so comfortably wrapped in their so-called privileges they don't know it has become a straight jacket. By insisting on living and dying by their elaborate rules, Manassa challenges them to think for themselves and suggests reasonable alternate interpretation. And isn't that one of the purposes of the study of the Torah? Is it duplicitous if someone studies the texts essential to the understanding of Judaism and that study leads him to a viewpoint that might challenge accepted beliefs, does that make it wrong? I don't think Manassa's chief goal is to "pull the wool," over someone's eyes. He's usually more than technically correct in his assessments of "the rules." That's what makes this story great--he's "afflicting the comforted," those who like to use their supposedly unchangeable rules to keep the power in their own hands. If it was mere trickery it wouldn't make the leaders of the synagogue so angry. Manassa is not only TECHNICALLY correct, his arguments have a sound basis in Torah and that's why ultimately most of those he has supposedly "tricked," have a grudging respect for him. Has he achieved his goals unfairly? I don't see it that way. To put it more crudely, Manassah is a great deal more than just a "smart ass." Maybe I'm over-interpreting the text but it seems to me there's more going on here than what's on the page and maybe Zangwill was suggesting that other bureaucracies (read: non- Jewish ones) might "benefit" from the study of Manassa's way of thinking.

Funny stuff.


(5 stars)

Hilarious story cranked up to 11 by the awesome performance! *sticks out tongue and raises both hands extending index & pinky fingers*

A very nice reading - questionable "Zangwill" humour


(4 stars)

Written with great satirical perception and an unerring sense of wry, preposterous humor, the book relates the adventures of Manasseh Bueno Barzillai Azevedo da Costa, a proud, resourceful Sephardic schnorrer (or beggar) who lords it over his fellow mendicants in London of the late 1790s. Faced with the marriage of his daughter to a man he considers a socially inferior beggar, Manasseh uses all the powers of his intellect to deal successfully--and with comic repercussions--with what he perceives as serious problems of life. Widely regarded as one of the author's most enduring works, this witty and wise literary gem pokes fun at the prejudices dividing London's Jewish community in the late eighteenth century. The story is full of clichés about the stinginess of the Jews etc... Not everybody's cup of tea... The recording is excellent, however. Five stars for Mr Adrian Praetzellis but only three stars for the book.

Wonderful story


(5 stars)

Between the way the story is written and the narrator this is one piece of literature you want to go on forever... it's def too short but many thanks to the author and narrator for bringing it to life

Loved it!


(4 stars)

Best for Jewish audiences since there is quite a lot of terminology that non Jews may not understand. Terrific reader


(5 stars)

the reader makes this book great. I can't say enough about Adrian. I plan to listen to everything he has read

Clever story beautifully read


(5 stars)

Funny, clever, fast moving and, as always, beautifully read.


(2 stars)

The reader does a great job! But I did not like the book.