Satan in Goray

Satan in Goray (Yiddish: דער שטן אין גאָריי: אַ מעשה פון פארצייטנס, Yiddish translit.: Der sotn in Goray: a mayse fun fartsaytns; "Satan in Goray: A Tale of the Old Times") is a novel by Isaac Bashevis Singer. It was originally published between January and September 1933 in installments in the Yiddish literary magazine Globus in Poland and in 1935 it was printed as a book. It was Singer's first published novel.[1]

Satan in Goray
First English edition (publ. Noonday Press, 1955)
AuthorIsaac Bashevis Singer
Publication date
Media typePrint


The novel describes a Jewish life in a Polish village of Goray after the massacres of the Cossack riots during the Khmelnitsky Uprising of 1648, which was influenced by the teachings of the false messiah Sabbatai Zevi in desperate hopes for messiah and redemption. The Jewry is split into two factions: traditionalists and Sabbateans. Eventually the news had come to Goray that Sabbatai Zevi converted to Islam. This was taken in Goray that the way to redemption is to embrace the evil. The strange rites culminate in the possession of one of Sabbatai's prophetesses with dybbuk. Since the Sabbatean's movement vaned, a true believer in Torah came and exorcised the dybbuk. The last segment of the novel is stylized as a 17th century document about "the dybbuk of Goray". [2][3]


Ken Frieden asserts that the novel "anticipates Singer’s later fascination with demons".[2] Meyer Levin wrote that the novel is "folk material transmuted into literature" and praised the English translation.[3]

Dar Williams' song "And a God Descended" (from The Green World album) uses imagery from the story to contemplate faith gone awry.


  • The novel was translated into Hebrew by Mordechai Lipson [he] at Dvir Publishing [he] in 1953.
  • The English translation (from Yiddish) was made by Jacob Sloan with the author's help and published by Noonday Press in 1955.[4]
  • The German translation was based on Sloan's English version by Ulla Hengst and printed by Rowohlt Verlag, 1969, ISBN 3-498-06073-2
  • Polish: Szatan w Goraju translated by Józef Marzęcki, Szymon Sal, 1992, ISBN 8390039257
  • Czech: Satan v Goraji translated by Jan Skoumal, Argo, 2003
  • Russian: "Сатана в Горае" translated by Yisroel Nekrasov, 2009
  • Italian: "Satana a Goraj" translated by Elisabetta Zevi, Adelphi Edizioni, 2018.


  1. ^ בשביס זינגר מזהיר אותנו [Bashevis Singer warns us], Makor Rishon archive.
  2. ^ a b Ken Frieden, Yiddish literature: Writers in New York, in Britannica
  3. ^ a b "A False Messiah", book review by Meyer Levin, The New York Times, November 13, 1955
  4. ^ Hugh Denman, Isaac Bashevis Singer: His Work and his World, 2021, ISBN 9004494480, p. 56